Russell Westbrook (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are gone, but the Utah Jazz may not be torn apart.
Veterans Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovich, Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Jay remain on the list. Even the recently acquired 25-year-old owner of Paisley may be a bit out of date for his jazz rebuilding schedule.
All of the above can help teams win now to varying degrees, one of which might be the Los Angeles Lakers.
“League sources indicate that there is at least a market for Bogdanovic, there is a lot of interest in the 6-foot-8 striker’s shot.”“s Tony Jones wrote on Wednesday. “However, the Jazz at this point do not appear to be particularly close to a trade that could give them more assets and consolidate the roster, although there are ongoing talks with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
For weeks (maybe even months), Utah and Los Angeles seemed like natural business partners.
Russell Westbrook proved terribly fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis last season. The Jazz have at least two players in Conley and Bogdanovic who seem tailored to the Lakers roster, and playing with a team at the start of rebuilding doesn’t make sense either.
The The much-rumored Indiana Pacers deal That includes Miles Turner and Buddy Heald may offer the Lakers more height in the long run, but trading with the Jazz will also make them better. And even if Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has been driving tough deals all summer, the fact that the two sides are still involved suggests something might be up.
However, there is a moving scale of what this “thing” might be. We’ll look at three points on the scale below.
Best case scenario: Pacers Reliant
Jones covers jazz, so he didn’t say if the Lakers are still involved with the Pacers as well. It wouldn’t make sense for the Lakers to cut off contact with a team that could offer a slightly more enticing trade, though.
Los Angeles should negotiate with both Utah and Indiana. If it reaches the threshold of an agreement with the state of Utah, it should contact the state of Indiana and tell the front office that it has another opportunity to choose the draft and the financial flexibility that acquiring Westbrook could provide.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the Pacers dig in their heels, refusing to trade both Turner and Heald to pick one and an expired contract. For them, it might be the right move.
But Indiana should be just as excited as Utah to pile on losses this season. Having Turner and Held in rotation runs counter to this goal.
If the Pacers want to join the race to the bottom in earnest, moving veterans making the difference for less than stellar value shouldn’t be off the table.
Sure, they’d rather have an extra pick down the road, but the lottery odds for the likes of Victor Wimpanyama, Scott Henderson, Amen Thompson or Ussar Thompson might be worth overlooking.
Worst case scenario: The Lakers do nothing
That the Lakers overplayed their hand and ended up with Westbrook on the roster for the start of the regular season is a potential mess. There is no way around it.
Yes, Westbrook played less than 1,000 undeserved time possessions with LeBron and AD last season, but L.A. has been a disappointment. minus 3.0 Net evaluation with those alignments. The team was between 31 and 47 years old when he played, and his field goal percentage was impressive 5.6 percentage points Below the league average.
The evidence is very overwhelming. And even if that wasn’t enough, the Lakers took possession of Westbrook Long time competitorPatrick Beverly, earlier this summer.
Even if they were Saying all the right things Now, The Athletic Jovan Poha We reported what we were all thinking in the wake of the Beverley deal: “Beverley’s arrival increases the likelihood that Westbrook will be off the active roster by the start of training camp, either through trade or sending the team home a la the Rockets with John Wall last season according to a source close to the situation. “.
Just imagine how much that embarrassment would get if the Lakers didn’t send Westbrook home and Beverly would take the starting point at the end.
The whole thing seems untenable, especially when you talk about how bad the team was with Westbrook in action last season.
Most Likely Scenario: The Jazz and Lakers Find a Deal
There is a lot of motivation for both Utah and Los Angeles to find a suitable trade.
Jazz must want to lose. Much. But that’s not all that Season 1 of Rebuild should accomplish. Development on the field and representatives of new (or young) players including Colin Sexton, Laurie Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Walker Kessler and others should be a priority.
Having Conley, Bogdanovic, Clarkson, and Jay on the list doesn’t necessarily make that impossible, but at least it makes it more difficult. Moving a bunch of them to pick and buy in the final year of the Westbrook deal paves the way for the youth and squad experience.
For the Lakers, the reluctance to include both of their first-round picks for 2027 and 2029 is understandable, but that’s kind of what you have in common when you have a LeBron. This means that you are in winning mode now, all the time.
And really, what’s the worst? Losing a shot at a hypothetical player seven years from now may or may not be good? Or being poor to average with a salary of over $40 million at home?
Being able to publish the lineup of Conley Beverly Bogdanovich and James Davis may not put the Lakers on the same level as teams like the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks or Phoenix Suns instantly bring them much closer than they are now.
In this position, LeBron and AD will once again be the indisputable focal points, as they were in 2020. And they were surrounded by a lot of shooting.
If LeBron doesn’t already get his last real chance at the championship, there isn’t much left. Los Angeles must go for it.