Michael Jordan May Ultimately Save LeBron James From His Russell Westbrook Nightmare

LeBron James is currently in a mess of his own making.

For only the fourth time in his career, LeBron is missing the playoffs, as the Los Angeles Lakers’ disaster of a season has them on the outside of the NBA Play-In Tournament. And they now must do anything possible to fix their mistakes and return to the top of the Western Conference by next season.

So, what should be in LA’s offseason plans? Trading Russell Westbrook, of course, and NBA legend Michael Jordan could be the one to save The King from his nightmare.

Russell Westbrook has failed with the Lakers

Let’s make one thing clear: Russell Westbrook has been a scapegoat for the Lakers. They knew what kind of player they were getting when they traded for him last offseason, and while he hasn’t played great, his play hasn’t been as bad as some have made it seem.

Westbrook is averaging fewer turnovers and shooting a higher percentage than he did last season with the Washington Wizards when everyone was singing his praises.

But his fit alongside James and this awkward roster has been atrocious. LeBron needs shooters around him, and the Lakers are in the bottom half of the NBA in three-point field goals, long-range attempts, and shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Westbrook has never been a shooter and has continued that trend this season. He’s making just 29.8% of his three-pointers.

So, can the Lakers get rid of him and reshape this ugly roster? Possibly, but it will be difficult. Westbrook has a $47 million player option for next season, and he will likely pick it up. No team will want to pay him that unless it is looking for an expiring contract to create financial flexibility in future seasons. Next year is the last on Westbrook’s contract.

This is where Michael Jordan could come in.

Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets could trade for Russell Westbrook

Michael Jordan has long been a fan of Russell Westbrook, and he’s the owner of the up-and-coming Charlotte Hornets. In order to have an expiring contract, which would make room to sign young stars LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges to contract extensions in future seasons, the Hornets could reportedly trade for Westbrook.

“While Hornets owner Michael Jordan has long ranked as a Westbrook admirer, it’s not yet clear if that would give such a trade concept more life,” NBA reporter Marc Stein reported in a Substack article (h/t Sports Illustrated’s All Lakers). “The scenario has nonetheless been mentioned by multiple rival teams in recent weeks and, if nothing else, illustrates the likelihood that the Lakers would largely be limited to trades in which they’re the team taking on more long-term money if they want to move off Westbrook immediately.”

So, problem solved? Not exactly. The Lakers would have to acquire players with multiple years left on their contracts. But they would potentially fit better alongside The King.

Is this really the best-case scenario for LeBron James?

NBA legend Michael Jordan and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
(L-R) Michael Jordan and LeBron James. | Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images; Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

To match salaries, the Hornets would likely trade Gordon Hayward, who will make $30.1 million next year, and Terry Rozier, who will earn $21.4 million. Hayward’s contract runs through 2023-24, and Rozier’s is until 2025-26.

That’s a significant commitment when LA could just part ways with Russell Westbrook after next season.

But it would give them a better chance to make some noise with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

As mentioned earlier, James needs shooters around him. When he won his third title on the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, the Cavs ranked second in three-point field goals and third in attempts. They were also seventh in long-range shooting percentage.

Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward are both elite shot makers from beyond the arc. The former is a 37.5% career three-point shooter, while Hayward has made 37.1%. This season, Rozier is sinking 37.4% of his deep shots, and Hayward is making them at a 39.1% clip.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have already proven they can win together. They just need the right pieces around them (and some luck health-wise). While it may be a bit of a risk, the Lakers could solve their problems by reaching out to Michael Jordan’s team. It could help LeBron get one step closer to MJ’s six titles.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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