Call them the patient Lakers.
After a summer-long wave of trade rumours surrounding Russell Westbrook, the Lakers have decided to see how the point guard fits under new head coach, Darvin Ham.
But right before training camp opened last week, the Lakers gave it one more try at negotiating a blockbuster trade with the Pacers to offload Westbrook, according to The Athletic.
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The Lakers and Pacers were reportedly in serious discussions about a mega-deal that would’ve sent Westbrook and their two unprotected first-round picks (2027 and ’29) to the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield.
The Lakers’ heavy hitters — owner Jeanie Buss, GM Rob Pelinka and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis — “seriously considered” the deal, with the views of Ham and Lakers executives Joey and Jesse Buss also being strongly considered in the process, according to The Athletic.
The discussions were apparently so far along that the Lakers even delayed their midweek news conference for Pelinka and Ham to continue debating.
Pelinka ultimately pulled the plug on the discussions, and decided to “remain patient” to see how the team jells.
Westbrook, who had one of the worst seasons of his career last year, exercised his $47.1 million ($A72m) option in June to return to Los Angeles.
Buss and Ham have expressed optimism about Westbrook playing under the new coach after the point guard previously said he didn’t get along well with former coach Frank Vogel.
The Lakers’ initial formal talks with the Pacers began after the NBA Summer League, which led to both sides to reportedly discuss first-and-second-round picks as compensation for both Turner and Hield.
The teams also discussed several other trade iterations, including adding a third team such as the Grizzlies, who could take a 2027 or ’29 first-rounder from the Lakers for two first-rounders of their own to send to Indiana, according the outlet.
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Lakers star LeBron James reportedly applied no pressure on the Lakers’ trade discussions with the Pacers. James, in fact, has shown his support for Westbrook, both publicly and reportedly privately.
In late August, James said he “can’t wait for [Westbrook] to go off this season,” in response to a message from internet personality Cuffs the Legend, who tweeted, “The Westbrook disrespect and vitriol is still corny regardless of how you feel about last season. Some people gotta get a life man.”
Throughout the summer, the Lakers have reportedly pursued a number of trade scenarios involving Westbrook — including Nets guard Kyrie Irving and former Laker Jordan Clarkson from the Jazz.The Lakers also raised questions about the cohesiveness of their roster after they traded for veteran guard Patrick Beverley in August.
Westbrook and Beverley’s rocky relationship is well-documented dating back to the 2013 playoffs — though, both players insist they’ve cultivated a close friendship since Beverley’s arrival in Los Angeles.
The Lakers are on a mission to return to the playoffs after a 33-49 finish last season, allowing the third-most points per game (115.1) in the NBA.