With the Lakers having a disappointing season, it should be a wakeup call where things need to change with the team. The one player that should absolutely be on the trading block is Russell Westbrook. Especially as he has suffered massive levels of regression during his time with the Lakers. Westbrook even has not fit well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. So, I thought why not list the Top 5 destinations Westbrook could go to.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
This is a wildcard team because I have no idea what the game plan for the 76ers will be. Honestly, I have thought this way since they decided to sign Al Horford to that questionable contract in 2019.
The 76ers have to get rid of Tobias Harris or James Harden this offseason. I don’t hate Tobias Harris and he is a solid player for them, but the 76ers overpaid him and he is not worth the current contract they signed him to (37.6 million in 2023 and 39.2 million in 2024). James Harden with the way he has played the past few seasons looks unmotivated. I don’t want to assume things because we don’t know what is going on with Harden off the court, but it seems like he doesn’t want to play basketball anymore. He is not worth the 47.3 million dollars that they will be paying him for next season.
The 76ers can get out of either there contracts in a deal involving Russell Westbrook (47 Million for 2023). The 76ers would probably want to trade a 1st round pick to make this deal happen, but there is no denying that the 76ers need to shake things up and make a deal.
4. Atlanta Hawks
If I am the Atlanta Hawks right now, there would be two goals set for the offseason. The first is to get better and younger on defense. The second is to get a partner for PG Trae Young on offense. Both were there biggest weaknesses during there performances in the playoffs. Westbrook can help in both categories, especially as he is known for his Triple Double performances. Plus they can afford him as Clint Capela and John Collins are free agents this offseason. Along, with getting out of Bogdan Bogdonavic’s contract and extending both De’Andre Hunter and Onyeka Okongwu, they can afford acquiring Westbrook via trade.
3. New York Knicks
Can’t rule out the Knicks in potentially getting a player like Westbrook. Especially with playing in Madison Square Garden as it is the worlds most famous arena. Westbrook can be a big boost for this Knicks team as they need another piece surrounding both Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett. The Knicks acquiring Westbrook could even get them out of Julius Randle’s contract. A big benefit in acquiring Westbrook, is that it could be an upgrade/replacement for Mitchell Robinson. Robinson is a free agent for the Knicks this offseason and I doubt he returns. Plus the Knicks can afford brining in Westbrook’s salary for a year.
2. Indiana Pacers
This is another team I could see acquiring Westbrook as the Lakers have high interest in two of there players. The first one is Buddy Heild, who the Lakers have been targeting for many years. They almost acquired him last year in a deal involving Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. But, the Lakers decided against it and to use them in a deal ironically for Westbrook. The second is Malcolm Brogdan. Where Malcolm Brogdan comes into play is in the trades to acquire Heild, his name was mentioned in a trade last year. But a deal could not be reached because the Lakers did not want to trade draft picks for the deal to happen.
This year I can see the Pacers try to shed the salaries of both, Brogdan (2023: 22.6 million, 2024: 22.5 million, and 2025: 22.5 Million) and Heild (2023: 21.1 million and 2024: 19.2 million). The Lakers are trying to win a championship (before LeBron leaves LA) and are willing to go above the luxury tax. The Pacers on the other hand are trying to rebuild and avoid doing that. The question is what are the Lakers willing to give up along Westbrook?
1. Charlotte Hornets
Out of all the teams in the NBA I think this is the most likely spot. No I am not saying this because they are my favorite team, and honestly I don’t want Russell Westbrook on the Hornets with his current contract. But a man who has been a big fan of Westbrook is Michael Jordan the owner of the team. Heck Jordan at one point he compared Westbrook to a younger version of himself and personally inducted Westbrook into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2016. To add on to it, Westbrook signed multiple deals with companies that are owned/invested by Michael Jordan.
It is clear that there is a close bond between the two and Jordan would love to have Westbrook on his team. They have the resources to make a trade with the Lakers and potentially be free of Gordon Heyward’s awful contract. The Hornets need a defensive player and a third piece to this team with LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges (please sign Miles Bridges to another extension).
Where do I believe Russell Westbrook will play next season? Los Angeles Lakers
All signs should point to the Lakers parting ways with Russell Westbrook, but this is the Lakers that we are talking about. They have made many questionable moves for the past few seasons and have over relied on acquiring name branded talents that are past their prime, on the decline, or want to ring chase. Plus, it maybe difficult for the Lakers to move Russell Westbrook’s contract as well. What team would really want to take that contract without receiving draft picks? I can’t think of one and it will be interesting to see what Lakers do to improve the team. I wish them luck this offseason, but something has to change in LA if they want another championship.