The 2021-22 NBA season has been an up-and-down one thus far for the Los Angeles Lakers. They are currently 12-12 and in sixth place in the congested Western Conference. A relatively slow start was expected as the Lakers were working in a ton of new faces.
There were only three players, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker, that returned to the team from last season’s roster. If that didn’t make it difficult enough to build chemistry, Los Angeles has also dealt with a rash of injuries.
Kendrick Nunn, who received the largest free-agent contract from the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason, has yet to take the court. Neither has Trevor Ariza, another free agent acquisition. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk are the only three players to appear in every game for the purple and gold this season.
While it is good that Westbrook has remained healthy, he has struggled at times adjusting to life with his hometown Lakers. We have seen a few vintage Westbrook performances here and there but not consistently enough.
Rob Pelinka surrendered a ton of depth to acquire Westbrook, trading away Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The Lakers have struggled to replace what those players brought to the table as they could really use some more versatile defenders.
Could the Los Angeles Lakers make Russell Westbrook available in a trade so that they can balance back out their roster? If that occurs, here are three teams that should aggressively target Westbrook in a trade.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are patiently awaiting the return of Zion Williamson to the court. He had a small setback in his rehab, so that return was pushed back yet again. New Orleans is barely hanging on when it comes to the playoff picture even in a weaker than anticipated Western Conference.
If David Griffin gets desperate and looks to swing a trade for a big-name player that’ll draw fans and hopefully change his team’s luck, it could be for Russell Westbrook. Griffin had a peculiar offseason, and this decision would be a big head-scratching as well, but the New Orleans Pelicans may be desperate enough to make a move.
New Orleans has a roster that could be a fit for Westbrook to thrive. They have some floor spacing, specifically at the center spot in Jonas Valanciunas, which will open the middle up for him to relentlessly attack the paint.