At this point in the season, it’s fair to say the Russell Westbrook experiment has not worked out in LA. Before the Lakers made the Russ trade, rumors surrounded another deal that would have put Sacramento Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield in purple and gold.
There’s a legitimate argument to be made that Hield would have been a better fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis with his ability to space the floor. But the franchise decided to go for star power instead.
Recent reports, though, suggest LA is trying to swing a deal for Hield before the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
In attempting to bring in a player they could have had instead of Russ, James and general Rob Pelinka are again admitting to the mistake they made bringing the former Oklahoma City and Houston star into the fold.
Russell Westbrook isn’t helping the Lakers push for a championship
The goal in acquiring Westbrook was to form a Big Three with LBJ and Davis. Instead, it’s been a case of James and the LeBronettes.
The King has turned back the clock and made every attempt to carry the Lakers. After missing time earlier this season due to injury, he’s now averaging more than 29 points, seven rebounds, and six assists on 52.2% shooting.
Davis and Russ have not done their share of the work, however.
AD couldn’t lead LA as a true superstar should in James’ absence. Westbrook still hasn’t found his fit with the other two and continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate — 4.1 times per night, which puts him fifth in the NBA.
After a loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 29, the Lake Show fell to 24-26 and is smack dab in the middle of a race for a spot in the play-in tournament.
The Lakers don’t have much in the way of assets, but that hasn’t yet stopped them from trying to find a deal to save their season.
And the latest rumor is incredibly ironic and honestly embarrassing.
The Lakers are now trying to pry Hield away from the Kings
There were two realistic trades on the table for LA last summer.
One was sending away Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the 22nd pick in the 2021 draft for Westbrook.
The other was a trade of Kuzma and Harrell for Hield.
Had the Lakers decided to take the latter route, James and Davis would have two shooters on the wing with KCP and Buddy, who have shown to be comfortable as role players.
Instead, they have a poor-shooting, turnover-prone, ball-dominant point guard who’s having issues finding a fit beside his two star teammates.
More than halfway through the season, here are the statistical comparisons between Hield, KCP, and Russ:
- Westbrook: 18.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 4.1 turnovers, 44.3% shooting, 30.5% from three
- Hield: 14.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 38.6% shooting, 37.6% from three
- Caldwell-Pope: 11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 41.2% shooting, 37.2% from three
Now, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (h/t Bleacher Report), the Lakers are trying to re-enter the race for the Kings’ guard, who’s having a down shooting year (a career 40.2% 3-point bomber).
“League sources have told me the Lakers have reached out to the Kings about a Talen Horton-Tucker package for Hield. Still trying to make that happen,” Haynes said.
The chances of Sacramento making that deal are slim to none. Still, the fact the LA is trying to re-visit a deal for a player they could have had in July shows how they feel about Westbrook.
LA’s season is already a failure
Any team with LeBron at the helm is a championship-or-bust squad. And unless something miraculous happens, this season is more bust than championship.
No matter how much LBJ tries to carry his team, his supporting cast is not enough, even with a former MVP in Russ and a superstar in AD flanking him.
What’s worse is that there’s no out for the franchise. Westbrook’s contract and production make him nearly impossible to trade. The Lakers are stuck with him, and unless they figure something out quick, James’ tenure out west is just about finished already.
All statistics courtesy of NBA.com.