With the NBA trade deadline approaching, DallasBasketball.com has kept you up to date on all Dallas Mavericks trade rumors, reports and hypothetical trade ideas as well. Given how the Mavs have played this calendar year, the feeling of urgency to pull off a trade is probably not as high as what it was. However, Dallas needs to make some moves it wants to reach true contender status this season.
We've already spitballed the idea of a Mavs trade with the Los Angeles Lakers involving big men Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis, which is based on the Lakers basically being stuck where they are right now with no clear path to improvement going forward. If you don't believe the Lakers are in a tight spot, just look at what they offered the Detroit Pistons for Jerami Grant.
Staying on theme with the Lakers, the staff gathered to discuss a borderline preposterous idea. Is there any scenario out there where the Mavs should risk trading for Russell Westbrook, who has spent a considerable amount of time being featured on Shaqtin' A Fool lately? More specifically, would you trade Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell and Trey Burke for him?
Dalton Trigg: If you just look at the traditional numbers on the surface, you'd probably think, 'oh, well Westbrook hasn't been that bad, y'all,' as he's averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game this season. Westbrook is shooting just 43 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep, which is not good, especially for a guy making $43 million this season and $47 million the next, but it's also pretty close to what Luka Doncic's overall efficiency has looked like this year too.
When you dig a little deeper, though, you can really see the rapid decline of Westbrook's play with advanced stats over the last handful of years. From Westbrook's third year in the league through his final season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he always had very respectable individual offensive ratings and defensive ratings, even after Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors and left him to do things on his own.
After that nine-year stretch of averaging an individual net rating of +6, Westbrook has started declining at an alarming rate, and it has somewhat come to a head this season, as he has an individual net rating of -10 for the Lakers. His defense has fallen off a cliff, and his offense makes it look like he might need to consider getting contacts, aside from one throwback play where he completed annihilated Rudy Gobert.
So with all that being said, why in the world would the Mavs consider trading for him?
Anyone who knows me knows that I can't help myself from considering future Mavs 'pipe-dream' free agency scenarios, although, oddly enough, I also tend to believe that cap space is a myth and can be created as soon as you get the 'yes' from a free agent first. But trading Hardaway Jr. and Powell's contracts for Westbrook's would mean that the Mavs would have a path to potentially having max cap space in the summer of 2023, when reigning MVP Nikola Jokic could be an unrestricted free agent.
You can imagine the rabbit hole I'm capable of going down into from there, but that would be the only reason I would even consider the offer. Also, I feel like the Lakers would also have to add some sort of draft compensation as well. If Westbrook can't mesh with LeBron James, then there's not much reason to believe that he would mesh well with Doncic either, who has molded a lot of his game after James.
Not to mention, this kind of trade could completely derail the good vibes created within the team over the last three weeks or so. I could see it end up being similar to the infamous Rajon Rondo trade of 2014, only with an extra year attached.
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After spending an entire article's worth of words talking here, I'll end it by simply answer 'no' to the initial question... but I had to think about it for a second, and that's a scary thought. Mavs need to make a move, but this is not the one.
Mike Fisher: I know that we sometimes talk about how in the Cuban era they overrate culture and chemistry; Maybe Dirk Nowitzki was the singular reason that for 20 years the Mavs had locker room chemistry. Not fluffy towels. Not modern gizmos.
But so much about Russ’ persona makes him seem like someone who turns chemistry upside-down. Does he need to be “the man?" Does he realize his star has faded?
I’d worry there.
This sort of move could lead to some cap-friendliness, as mentioned above. And it would definitely be a “spark" in one way or another. But this seems more “on-paper” cool than much else.
Matthew Postins: My take? I like Westbrook’s game, but he does too many of the same things that Luka does well, aside from the occasional thunder dunk, for me to get too excited about it.
The salaries match up, but the Lakers would probably have to give the Mavs draft compensation to do this trade. And given that the Lakers offered their 2027 first to the Pistons for Jerami Grant, it’s hard to see them attaching an asset like that just to dump Westbrook. He has a player option worth $47 million for next season, and he’s almost guaranteed to accept that option.
Although I could see it providing a temporary ‘spark’ like Fish said, I too think I’d pass here.
Lance Roberson: Westbrook is not the answer for winning basketball games, at least not with the role he has in mind. He no longer finishes at the rim at a respectful clip; turnovers are still a problem.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, his competitive delusion will do nothing but tear the Mavs apart. In short, in no scenario would I trade for Westbrook.
Grant Afseth: No.
Compelling stuff from our guy Grant, there. And honestly, he has a point.