Russell Westbrook’s acquisition hasn’t been seamless for the Los Angeles Lakers, and a report from a few weeks ago revealed trade interest around the league for the former MVP was low.
But that seems to have changed — for now.
According to longtime NBA insider Marc Stein, there is one team that would be interested in taking Westbrook from L.A.: the Houston Rockets. Houston would send John Wall to the Lakers but would want sufficient draft compensation for doing so (paid subscription):
I’ve since learned that the Rockets — while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again — actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation.
To be clear: This is not a scenario likely to materialize between now and Feb. 10 or one I would advise the Lakers to pursue so soon even after all of my criticism of the Westbrook trade in the first place.
Yet sources say that the Lakers could convince Houston to take Westbrook back for Wall if they attached their 2027 first-round draft pick to the deal. The Lakers could naturally try to offer multiple second-round picks instead, but L.A.’s 2027 first-rounder is the piece rival teams naturally covet.
Houston had Westbrook two seasons ago but traded him to the Washington Wizards for Wall. Wall played 40 games for the Rockets last season and put up solid numbers, but he wasn’t exactly the same player he was before his Achilles injury. Wall has not played this season.
In a vacuum, Wall and Westbrook have similar playstyles. They prefer to attack the rim since they’ve never developed reliable 3-point jumpers and use speed as their primary weapon. However, Wall, 31, has had to adapt more after losing some burst due to the injury. This would be risky for the Lakers since that first-round pick could net them someone else.
A lot of Westbrook’s flaws overlap with Wall, so the Lakers could find themselves in a similar bind with the lack of floor spacing around LeBron James. Both players have $47 million player options for next season as well.
There seems to be a way out for the Lakers if they want to end the Westbrook experiment, but they also shouldn’t make a trade for the sake of making a trade.
The trade deadline is set for Feb. 10.