LA’s true feelings on trading Russell Westbrook, revealed

The Los Angeles Lakers could trade Russell Westbrook right now if they wanted to. As Marc Stein has reported on over the past week, they have an offer on the “proverbial table” to send Russ and a 2027 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for John Wall.

Don’t count on it.

As I wrote about on Friday, this move is logical for the Rockets. They’re already paying a declining point guard over 30, who makes exactly the same money as Westbrook ($44 million this season, $47 million in 2022-23,), to not play for them. If they can add a future first-round pick by simply swapping the dude who isn’t around the team, why not? (no pun intended).

For the Lakers, though, it’s a steep price to pay to a) acquire a player who has barely played for two seasons, even if Klutch presumably gives them the best possible intel on Wall’s condition and b) admit defeat so quickly on the massive gamble the front office (and LeBron James) made last summer.

Here’s what Stein wrote in his latest column:

The Lakers … appear determined to stick with Westbrook through at least the rest of the season — which means holding onto their 2027 first-round draft pick for other potential trade opportunities.

League sources say that the Lakers … are unwilling to attach the 2027 first-rounder to make the (Wall) deal happen.

There are a variety of reasons, sources say, that the Lakers refuse to do so. Surrendering such a valuable trade chip for a swap that isn’t guaranteed to raise the Lakers’ cap this season is the primary deterrent… There are also major optics concerns for the Lakers. Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native.

If Los Angeles took Houston’s current offer, that would mean the Lakers would have exchanged Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso (voluntary collateral damage), a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-rounder for … John Wall? Yikes.

Stein’s reporting aligns with that from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, to whom a Lakers source said the team has “no plan B” when it comes to Westbrook. They just have to hope the situation gets better.

Stein notes, though, that if more teams got involved in a Lakers-Rockets transaction — or if the Rockets took the pick out of the equation (why would they?) — the Lakers could be more incentivized to deal.

Kobe Bryant, Hornets

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