Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the veteran superstars who are expected to change teams in the 2022 NBA offseason. Based on his performance in his first season wearing the Purple and Gold, it's crystal clear that Westbrook is not the third star that the Lakers need alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. When the 2021-22 NBA season is officially over, the Lakers will be aggressive on the market finding a team that will take Westbrook and his massive salary.
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Hornets Interested In Russell Westbrook
One of the potential landing spots for Westbrook this summer is the Charlotte Hornets. According to NBA insider Marc Stein in his substack newsletter, the Hornets could emerge as a suitor for former MVP in the 2022 NBA offseason. With the presence of LaMelo Ball on their roster, some people would question why the Hornets would be interested in Westbrook.
However, Stein said that if the Hornets pushed through with their plan to trade for Westbrook, it would be in the "name of creating some financial flexibility."
Lakers' Dream Trade With Hornets
In a recent article, James Piercey of NBA Analysis Network suggests a dream trade package that the Lakers could get by unloading Westbrook's expiring salary to the Hornets. In the proposed trade scenario, the Lakers would be sending Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick to the Hornets in exchange for Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward. If the trade becomes a reality, Piercey believes it would help the Lakers and the Hornets in filling up the needs to improve on their roster.
Lakers Get New Starting PG & A Former All-Star
The proposed blockbuster trade would make a lot of sense for the Lakers. Though it would cost them a future first-round pick, the suggested deal would enable them to turn Westbrook's expiring contract into a younger floor general in Rozier and a former All-Star in Hayward. Rozier may not be as accomplished as Westbrook, but he could be a much better fit with James and Davis. Compared to Westbrook, Rozier is a better three-point shooter and perimeter defender.
Bringing in Hayward to Los Angeles would be a huge gamble for the Lakers. Aside from the fact that he has a longer contract than Westbrook, he has also dealt with numerous injuries in the past years. However, when he's 100 percent healthy, Hayward could lessen the loads on James and Davis' shoulders on the offensive end of the floor.
Why The Hornets Would Make The Trade
As mentioned earlier, the Hornets would make the deal with the goal of creating future salary cap flexibility. By taking Westbrook's expiring deal, the Hornets would successfully unload an injury-riddled veteran who's owed $61.5 million over the next two years and Rozier's four-year, $97 million contract to the Lakers. This would ease the financial burden of giving a massive contract extension to Miles Bridges this summer and Ball in the following offseason.
Though he longer fits the timeline of their young core, Piercey believes that Westbrook could thrive with the Hornets' run-and-gun offense. However, Westbrook would probably be forced to accept a sixth-man role in Charlotte.