ESPN’s NBA insider Brian Windhorst has reported that Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook will not be traded this offseason due to the low-ball offers they have received up to this point.
“Based on the executives I’m talking to, they believe that the Lakers have come to the conclusion that they’re not going to trade Westbrook now, because they don’t like any of their offers and they’re going to try and make the best of it and see what happens,” Windhorst said.
This is an important development to the Utah Jazz, as they were rumored to be one of the leading candidates and willing to absorb Westbrook’s 2022-23 salary of $47 million.
If this Westbrook rumor holds true, then Utah will most likely have to piece off vets (Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Jordan Clarkson) individually to clear a path for their newly acquired talent to get live reps to develop.
As the current roster stands, Utah has 18 players under contract for 2022-23, and this doesn’t include Xavier Sneed and Johnny Juzang, who have signed two-way deals. The Jazz still have some work to do as NBA rules limit teams to 15 rostered players during the regular season.
Bogdanovic will be the easiest player to move because of his expiring contract, as teams will want to clear cap space for the 2023 free-agent market. Beasley has a team option in 2023-24 that would be attractive to a team like the Lakers, who are rumored to be clearing space for a Kyrie Irving-LeBron James reunion next year.
If obtaining Irving is the end game for L.A., then Clarkson and Conley don’t make much sense as they could be owed a combined $38.5M in 2023-24. Only $14.3M of Conley’s $24.3M is guaranteed, but either way, it’s money the Lakers will not want to be tied to as they try and reshuffle their roster to appease James.
Teams like the Jazz and Indiana Pacers would be willing to take on Westbrook’s ridiculous contract because of the 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks that could be lottery-bound. James will be long gone at this time, and it could be the Lakers' turn for a rebuild.
Utah will need answers soon as the season kicks off in 39 days.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnesNBA.