Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the veteran superstars who are highly expected to be traded in the 2022 NBA offseason. With the way he played in his first year wearing the Purple and Gold, it's crystal clear that Westbrook is not the third star that the Lakers need alongside the veteran superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. When the 2021-22 NBA season is officially over, the Lakers are expected to find a way to get rid of Westbrook and his massive salary.
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Russell Westbrook To Utah Jazz
One of the dark-horse trade destinations for Westbrook this summer is the Utah Jazz. In a recent article, Greg Patuto of NBA Analysis Network discussed a hypothetical blockbuster trade idea that would enable the Lakers to dump the former MVP to the Jazz. In the proposed trade scenario, the Lakers would be sending a trade package that includes Westbrook's expiring contract, Talen Horton-Tucker, and a 2027 first-round pick to the Jazz in exchange for Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Juancho Hernangomez.
Lakers Add Three Solid Role Players
Though they won't be getting Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert in return, the proposed blockbuster would still make a lot of sense for the Lakers. Aside from successful unloading Westbrook and his lucrative contract to Utah, the Lakers would also be acquiring three solid veteran role players in Conley, Bogdanovic, and Hernangomez, who would help James and Davis carry the team in the 2022-23 NBA season.
Acquiring those three players would give the Lakers salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2023 since Bogdanovic and Hernangomez are set to become unrestricted free agents after the 2022-23 NBA while Conley's salary in the 2023-24 NBA season is not fully guaranteed.
Mike Conley's Fit With LeBron James & Anthony Davis
Conley would be an intriguing replacement for Westbrook as the Lakers' new starting point guard in the 2022-23 NBA season. Conley may already be on the downside of his NBA career, but he could still make an impact on both ends of the floor. He would give the Lakers a very reliable third-scoring option behind James and Davis, as well as a great playmaker, a decent perimeter defender, and a legitimate threat from beyond the arc.
Compared to Westbrook, Conley would be a much better fit with James and Davis. In the years that he spent with Mitchell and Gobert in Utah, Conley has proven that he can efficiently exist on a team with multiple superstars.
Why The Jazz Would Make The Trade
The idea of trading for Westbrook would definitely anger some Jazz fans but with the years that they are stuck in mediocrity, it won't hurt them to perform a huge experiment before they decide to blow things up. Westbrook may have been a huge disappointment in Los Angeles but if he could bring back his old self in Utah, the Jazz would be having a walking triple-double machine alongside Mitchell and Gobert next season.
As compensation for absorbing Westbrook, the Jazz would also be receiving a young and promising player in Horton-Tucker and a future first-round pick that they could use to add another talented prospect to their roster.