Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Deal with Pacers dead because Lakers refused to include two first-round picks

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Deal with Pacers dead because Lakers refused to include two first-round picks

The Los Angeles Lakers have engaged the Indiana Pacers in trade talks involving a trade of Russell Westbrook for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, but those discussions are now dead because the Lakers declined to include a second first-round pick, according to The Athletic.

While the Lakers would be willing to trade one of their available first-round picks, specifically the 2027 selection, the Pacers believe they should get two of them — one for the hassle of taking on Westbrook’s contract and another in exchange for Turner and Hield .

The Lakers’ reluctance to send out future draft picks is nothing new. At last season’s deadline, they reportedly turned down a chance to trade Westbrook for John Wall because they didn’t want to attach a pick to the deal. However, this is the most specific we’ve gotten regarding a potential Westbrook deal this summer.

Earlier this month, Westbrook, as expected, opted into the final year of his $47.1 million contract. While the front office and coaching staff have been honest with Westbrook about needing him to adjust his role, they have been supportive publicly.

“We love everybody on our roster,” new coach Darvin Ham said during one of the Lakers’ Summer League games. “And until you’re not on our roster, you’re ours and we’re going to try to get better with our group. That’s just the bottom line of it.”

During a performance at All The Smoke podcast earlier this month, Ham was more direct: “I’m excited to coach Russ. They’re trying to dump on Russ, I’m like that was one of the things that got me excited about this job. He and I have had a great relationship since I’ve taken over the job, man.”

Behind the scenes, however, it is clear that the Lakers are working to trade him. In addition to this latest Pacers rumor, there has been a lot of discussion about one potential deal involving the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving (although it’s hard to see why the Nets would go along with it). There was also this bit of information from Dave McMenamin about the latest Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe: “Small selection last year with Russ, but it’s pretty clear that LeBron has seen enough and he has no interest in going into another year with Russ as a teammate.”

It’s no surprise that the Lakers are trying to move Westbrook. Acquiring him never made sense in the first place and went even worse than expected in his first season with the club. While Westbrook certainly wasn’t the Lakers’ only problem, he was a terrible fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, plus he played a major role in the team finishing 21st in defense. Despite the organization’s best efforts, Westbrook seems unwilling to change his style, and it’s hard to imagine any of last season’s issues suddenly disappearing this season.

However, other teams are well aware of Westbrook’s flaws and massive contract, making it difficult to trade him. For now, it’s entirely reasonable that the Lakers would want to wait to move both of their first-round picks, who represent their best trade assets, in a non-Irving deal. While there is risk in acquiring the former All-Star, and the chance of getting a deal done is slim, his upside is so great that it makes sense to wait until his situation is resolved one way or another.

But at some point, the Lakers may have to accept that a Turner and Hield package is the best they can do for Westbrook. And while attaching multiple first-round picks would be a steep price to pay, they may have to bite the bullet to maximize the final seasons of James’ career.

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