The Latest Russell Westbrook-John Wall Trade Scenario ‘Makes the Most Sense,’ Says NBA Insider Kevin O’Connor
The Los Angeles Lakers have looked no part of a championship-contending team, falling toward the backend of the playoff picture. Russell Westbrook‘s inconsistent play raises concerns about whether he can be the missing piece to the championship puzzle. The outside criticisms have led NBA insider Kevin O’Connor to throw out a trade scenario involving John Wall.
Russell Westbrook’s shaky start creating doubt in Los Angeles
The Lakers headlined their busy offseason by acquiring the nine-time All-Star.
However, the first 38 games have featured Los Angeles stumbling due to injuries, COVID-19 related issues, and inconsistent play. Westbrook has struggled to find any stable footing as his performance, while his role has fluctuated due to injuries to James and Davis
The 33-year-old is putting up a productive campaign, averaging triple-double numbers with 19.6 points, 8.3 assists, and 8.1 rebounds. Westbrook has posted nine triple-doubles, but he’s struggled to hit consistently from deep (30.2%) while committing a high volume of turnovers (4.8). He’s also stumbled with his play in late-game situations behind scoring inefficiency and questionable decision-making.
All those factors have generated concern about him being the missing piece that pushes the Lakers to championship contention. Trade chatter has predictably entered into the picture, leading a prominent NBA insider to suggest a possible scenario.
The latest Russell Westbrook-John Wall trade scenario ‘Makes the most sense,’ says NBA insider Kevin O’Connor
The Lakers’ sluggish start has pushed some of the conversation toward Westbrook’s future.
He is in the fourth year of his five-year, $206.7 million deal that includes a roughly $47 million fifth-year option. Despite the sizeable remaining amount, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently suggested that a trade to the Houston Rockets for John Wall makes the most feasible sense.
“Unless Russ shows signs of changing, the Lakers need to at least consider moving him,” O’Connor detailed on December 27. “Not that there’d be much interest. Few teams need a point guard, never mind a past-his-prime 33-year-old making $44 million with a player option for $47 million next season.
“Westbrook to Houston (again) for John Wall (again) makes the most sense. It would be a major risk to flip Westbrook, who despite his flaws is still a good and more durable player, for Wall, who has played only 40 games in the past three calendar years. But Wall is a Klutch client. Rich Paul, LeBron, and company would know more than anyone what Wall’s condition is and his willingness to do what it takes to win with the Lakers.”
Beyond Wall having the connection to LeBron James as a Klutch Sports client, his situation in Houston remains unresolved. He’s currently away from the team, waiting for the Rockets to find him a new NBA home.
Wall is in the third year of his four-year, $171.1 million deal that includes a $47.3 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign. Last season, the 31-year-old put forth a productive year with the Rockets, averaging 20.6 points and 6.9 assists, but shot 40.4% from the floor and 31.7% from distance.
The point guards were previously traded for each other, resulting in Wall landing in Houston and Westbrook with the Washington Wizards. The financial figures line up, but the Rockets likely don’t want Westbrook. The franchise is fully committed to their youth movement led by Jalen Green. Meanwhile, the former league MVP is an older player who won’t figure into their long-term plans.
Wall would be a short-term solution with the Lakers that would likely head toward a split in the offseason. The financial figures nearly match up, but it further demonstrates that the Lakers will have to stick it through with Westbrook for at least the rest of the season.
The clock is ticking on Russell Westbrook
The Lakers may not see a long-term future with Westbrook, but the franchise put itself in that position.
LeBron James will anchor the charge behind his impressive play in his 19th campaign, which includes filling in at center with Davis sidelined. Meanwhile, Westbrook still holds the opportunity to prove he can push his toward NBA title contention.
When Davis returns, the Lakers truly see whether their roster as constituted is enough to reach that lofty goal. If not, expect significant changes ahead next offseason to maximize the remaining window with James.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.
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