Reports on Friday suggest a potential blockbuster trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers is dead for now. The proposed deal would reportedly send Buddy Hield and Myles Turner to the Lakers in exchange for Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick. The stocking point of the trade is the Pacers wanting another first-rounder attached. Frankly, the Lakers should do whatever it takes to get this deal done.
As I predicted last summer, Westbrook's move to the Lakers was an absolute disaster. Anyone who knew anything about the NBA saw he would never fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Now they need to do whatever they can to get out from under the $47 million he's owed for the 2022-23 season. Hield and Turner are useful pieces who could actually improve the roster.
Hield would give James something he hasn't had with the Lakers: a true knockdown shooter on the perimeter. The 29-year-old shooting guard is a career 39.8 percent 3-point shooter. Meanwhile, Turner is a rim protector who led the NBA with 2.8 blocks per game last season. When healthy, he can be a nice piece in the post and would take a ton of pressure off Davis defensively.
Yes, giving up more future draft picks is not a great idea, given that the Lakers already surrendered a ton to land Davis. LA doesn't own its own first-rounder with no restrictions until 2026. I get the hesitation to move more picks. That said, this may be the only option that makes sense for the franchise.
James is a free agent after next season, while Davis is under contract through at least 2024, with a player option for the 2024-25 season. There is no guarantee LeBron decides to return after the season, so this might be LA's last chance to win with him. Hield has two-years and roughly $40 million left on his contract, while Turner will be in the final year of his deal for $18 million.
The basic math for the Lakers comes down to Hield and Turner actually being able to add value to the team, while Westbrook is a massive drag on the roster. This deal could be the difference between missing the playoffs and getting a top-four seed in the Western Conference. If it takes another future first-round pick to get that done, general manager Rob Pelinka has to pull the trigger.