What could have been

As the Lakers keep struggling, the trades that could have been look better and better.

By Jakyies Evans

With the trade deadline behind us, big names and big games are on the move and shaking up this 2021-2022 NBA season. Here are the deals that will reshape the playoffs: 

The Philadelphia Seventy Sixers traded Seth Curry, Ben Simmons, and Andre Drummond up north to the Gritty City of Brooklyn, while the Nets Big Three took a dive, giving up James Harden along with Paul Millsap. 

The Kings and Pacers made big swaps in a six-player deal with Sacramento taking Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb , and Justin Holiday and Indiana receiving Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson. 

Even Portland is seeing some new faces as they acquired Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Walker-Alexander, and Didi Louzada in exchange for CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell. And this deal followed a five-player trade between Portland and The LA Clippers earlier that same week. 

There is one name that had been the front runner for trade hopes this deadline who stayed put: Russell Westbrook. WIth the Lakers sitting below .500 and ninth in the west, they are the most disappointing team in the NBA.  You would have thought LeGM would make some moves before the time was up. But with former high-interest pieces losing value due to underperformance like Talen Horton Tucker, who is sitting on a 3 year, $32 million deal while only averaging 9.7ppg, 3.3 rpg and 2 apg and shooting just 28 percent from behind the arc. Westbrook is also averaging career lows in shooting and stats that we haven’t seen from him since the 2009-2010 season(18.3ppg , 7.8rpg , 7.6 apg). A four-game stretch in February, during which he averaged 10.3ppg, is his worst production since 2010. 

Westbrook, aka “Brodie,” has the second lowest player efficiency rating in his entire career (15.81%). And it’s happening while he’s getting paid on a 44 million dollar contract with a player option! 

The numbers and the eye test shows that russ and other pieces in LA are not a good fit on the court, off the court or in the Front Office. I think there are several trades that LA could’ve made to save a dying season. With help from ESPN’s Trade Machine  was able to find trades that follow NBA rules and match salaries: 

  1. The New York Knicks could have traded Julius Randle, Derrick Rose and Alec Burk to LA for receive Westbrook, Horton Tucker and DeAndre Jordan. I think this trade could benefit both ends, as Randle has wanted out of New York recently and is seeing a decline in performance. While we’ve seen Randle in a Lakers uniform before, I think this time things would be different because he could add more size and defense while focusing more on spot-up shooting, and taking a necessary backseat to support the duo of Lebron and AD. Adding Rose and Burks, who both shoot above 38 percent from behind the arc, in the backcourt would be a quick boost, too. 

Russ and Jordan could add athleticism, size, rebounding, and interior defense to New Rork . Russ could form a backcourt duo with guard RJ Barrett who’s averaging 18ppg, 5.7rpg, and 2.6apg and shooting 35 percent from three. Giving russ more ball dominance could create a great in and out game between the two, which could be complimented by Horton Tucker coming off the bench. 

  1. Another Big trade could have happened with Russ’ former team, The Wizards. LA could trade Russ, Sekou Doumbouya and Carmelo Anthony for Bradley Beal , Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Corey Kispert. I think Beal’s scoring and efficiency speak for itself (23.2ppg, 4.7rpg, 6.6apg, 30 percent from behind the arch and 45 from the field). His ability to score anywhere on the floor alongside LeBron’s insane IQ  and AD’s size and skill could form the deadliest trio in the NBA. Pair this with Caldwell Pope and Kispert’s size and efficiency (both shooting above 30% from behind the arch), and things would look sunny in LA again. 

Meanwhile, Russ being back in Washington could be actually super effective with the Wizards’ most recent pick-up, Kristap Porzingis. Porzingis has been averaging 19.7ppg, 7.7rpg, 2.0apg and 1.7bpg. Pairing Russ’ athleticism and speed with Porzingis’ size and shooting could be something special. Complimenting them with Anthony’s shooting and efficiency and Diumbouya’s size, shooting and defense along with Kuzma, who’s playing stellar and posting frequent 20pt and 20rb games throughout the season, this Wizards squad could be a redemption story for the ages. 

In short,  I think that the Lakers had enough time, pieces, influence, and chances to take a desperate situation and make the best out of it. But I guess they have faith in the 360.  

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