Russell Westbrook (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE through Getty Images)
Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are gone, however the Utah Jazz’s teardown will not be carried out.
Veterans Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay are nonetheless on the roster. Even the not too long ago acquired Malik Beasley (25) could also be a little bit previous for the Jazz’s rebuild timeline.
All of the above might help win-now groups to various levels, certainly one of which could be the Los Angeles Lakers.
“League sources point out a marketplace for Bogdanovic on the very least, of which there’s important curiosity for the 6-foot-8 capturing ahead,” The Athletic‘s Tony Jones wrote on Wednesday. “But, the Jazz at this level do not look like notably near a commerce that might land them much more property and consolidate the roster, though there are ongoing talks with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
For weeks (perhaps even months), Utah and LA have appeared like pure commerce companions.
Russell Westbrook proved to be a horrible match alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis final season. The Jazz have not less than two gamers in Conley and Bogdanovic that appear tailored for the Lakers roster, and enjoying for a staff on the outset of a rebuild is mindless for both.
The oft-rumored Indiana Pacers deal that entails Myles Turner and Buddy Hield might provide the Lakers extra long-term upside, however a commerce with the Jazz would virtually actually make them higher, too. And even when Jazz CEO Danny Ainge has pushed onerous bargains all summer time, the truth that the 2 sides are nonetheless engaged suggests one thing might occur.
There’s a sliding scale for what that “one thing” may be, although. We’ll have a look at three factors on the dimensions under.
Best-Case Scenario: Pacers Relent
Jones covers the Jazz, so he made no point out of whether or not the Lakers are nonetheless engaged with the Pacers as effectively. It would not make sense for the Lakers to close down communication with the staff that may provide a barely extra attractive commerce, although.
LA must be negotiating with each Utah and Indiana. If it reaches the brink of an settlement with Utah, it ought to name Indiana and inform the entrance workplace it has another probability to take a draft choose and the monetary flexibility that buying Westbrook can present.
The Pacers digging of their heels and refusing to commerce each Turner and Hield for one choose and an expiring contract would not be stunning. For them, it would even be the best transfer.
But Indiana must be each bit as motivated as Utah to pile up losses this season. Having Turner and Hield within the rotation is antithetical to that objective.
If the Pacers need to be part of the race to the underside in earnest, transferring difference-making veterans for less-than-stellar worth should not be off the desk.
Sure, they’d want to have an additional choose down the street, however elevated lottery odds for the likes of Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, Amen Thompson or Ausar Thompson could also be price overlooking that.
Worst-Case Scenario: Lakers Do Nothing
The Lakers overplaying their hand and ending up with Westbrook on the roster for the beginning of the common season is a possible mess. There’s no method round it.
Yes, Westbrook performed fewer than 1,000 non-garbage time possessions with LeBron and AD final season, however LA had an underwhelming minus-3.0 web ranking with these lineups. The staff was 31-47 when he performed, and his efficient field-goal proportion was a cringeworthy 5.6 proportion factors under the league common.
The proof is fairly overwhelming. And even when that wasn’t sufficient, the Lakers acquired Westbrook’s longtime rival, Patrick Beverley, earlier this summer time.
Even in the event that they’re saying all the best issues now, The Athletic’s Jovan Buha reported what we had been all pondering within the wake of the Beverley deal: “Beverley’s arrival makes it extra probably that Westbrook will likely be off the lively roster by the beginning of coaching camp, both by way of a commerce or the staff sending him residence a la the Rockets with John Wall final season, in accordance with a supply near the state of affairs.”
Just think about the diploma to which that awkwardness intensifies if the Lakers do not ship Westbrook residence and Beverley ultimately takes his beginning spot.
The complete factor feels untenable, particularly whenever you layer on how dangerous the staff was with Westbrook in motion final season.
Likeliest Scenario: Jazz and Lakers Find a Deal
There is loads of motivation for each Utah and LA to discover a appropriate commerce.
The Jazz ought to need to lose. Quite a bit But that is not all that the primary season of a rebuild ought to accomplish. On-court improvement and reps for the brand new younger (or young-ish) core of gamers that features Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji, Walker Kessler and extra must be a precedence.
Having Conley, Bogdanovic, Clarkson and Gay on the roster would not essentially make that not possible, nevertheless it not less than makes it trickier. Moving some mixture of them for picks and shopping for out the final 12 months of Westbrook’s deal clears the trail for youth and lineup experimentation.
For the Lakers, reluctance to incorporate each their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks is comprehensible, however that is type of what you join when you’ve got LeBron. It means you are in win-now mode, on a regular basis.
And actually, what’s worse? Losing a shot at a hypothetical participant seven years from now who might or will not be good? Or, being dangerous to mediocre with $40-plus million in wage sitting at residence?
Being in a position to deploy a Conley-Beverley-Bogdanovic-James-Davis lineup might not put the Lakers in the identical tier as groups just like the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks or Phoenix Suns immediately, however it will get them far nearer than they’re proper now.
In that state of affairs, LeBron and AD would as soon as once more be the unquestioned focal factors, as they had been in 2020. And they’d be surrounded by loads of capturing.
If LeBron hasn’t already had his final actual shot at a championship, there aren’t many left. LA has to go for it.