Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the NBA superstars who are highly expected to change teams in the 2022 NBA offseason. Westbrook and the Lakers are still trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in the 2021-22 NBA season, but rumors have already started to circulate around their inevitable divorce. With his current struggle and failure to live up to expectations as the team's third star, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report revealed there's a "mutual interest in finding Westbrook a new home this summer."
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Hypothetical Lakers-Sixers Trade
One of the potential trade partners for the Lakers in the deal involving Westbrook is the Philadelphia 76ers. In a recent discussion with Steve Bulpett, Sean Deveney of Heavy proposed a hypothetical blockbuster deal that would send Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick to the Sixers in exchange for veteran power forward Tobias Harris.
“If you’re the Lakers, you could do Russell Westbrook, right?” Deveney asked. “You could do Russell Westbrook for Tobias Harris, and that would make for some interesting times for the reporters of Philadelphia. You do Westbrook, throw in that 2027 first-round pick and you get back Tobias Harris—you’re out of the Westbrook woods at least.”
Why The Sixers Would Make The Trade
The Sixers would make the trade with the goal of getting rid of Harris and his massive salary. While Westbrook is also owed a huge amount of money, his contract is set to expire after the 2022-23 NBA season. This would give the Sixers salary cap flexibility to chase big names in the 2023 NBA free agency.
Harris may have been considered one of the Sixers' core players in the past years but since the arrival of James Harden, he became the odd man out of the City of Brotherly Love. In an episode of The Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN's Brian Windhorst revealed that from the time they acquired Harden, there have been questions about Harris' fit with the Sixers and whether they could move him for roster upgrades next summer.
Russell Westbrook-James Harden Reunion
The proposed blockbuster deal with the Lakers would be worth exploring for the Sixers. Aside from creating salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2023, it would enable them to reunite Harden with his former backcourt partner in Space City. Though they failed to win the NBA championship title in the lone season that they played together on the Houston Rockets, Deveney revealed that Harden and Westbrook somehow had a decent relationship.
“They did all right together for a while, at least, in Houston, it wasn’t a disaster,” Deveney said. “At least for a time. It didn’t end well, but they held it together.”
Tobias Harris Becomes Lakers' New Third Star
Swapping Westbrook for Harris would be a huge gamble for the Lakers. Aside from their need to give up a future first-round pick, Harris' salary could haunt them until the 2023-24 NBA season. However, compared to Westbrook, Harris would undoubtedly be a much better fit with James and Davis on the court.
Having a third star who can space the floor and excel in an off-ball capacity would make it easier for James and Davis to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when they are trapped by the opposing team's defense.