Westbrook, Hield, Turner – Five inquiries to reply earlier than the proposed Lakers-Pacers commerce

After the Indiana Pacers play the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday at Crypto.com Area and proceed on the highway to Sacramento, middle Myles Turner may need blended emotions about boarding the group aircraft as a substitute of staying in L.A.

Final month, after commerce talks between the Pacers and Lakers fizzled simply earlier than coaching camp, Turner took the uncommon tactic of publicly lobbying for the groups to revisit the deal.

“If I’m the Lakers, I take a very hard look at this with the position that you’re in,” Turner mentioned, responding to a query in regards to the potential swap as a visitor on ESPN’s “The Woj Pod” with Adrian Wojnarowski. “I know what I can provide for a team — my leadership, my shot-blocking, my 3-point ability and just my ability to make plays out there on the floor.”

The proposed commerce, which concerned Turner and capturing guard Buddy Hield going to the Lakers and L.A. sending level guard Russell Westbrook and draft capital in return, fell aside when the Lakers backed away, a number of sources informed ESPN.

The Lakers determined that giving up each their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks — the one future first-round property they’ve of their draft chest — was too steep a value to pay for a haul that would not indisputably propel them to contender standing, sources mentioned.

Plus the Lakers reasoned, sources mentioned, the identical cope with the Pacers would nonetheless be there down the road ought to they reengage.

With the Lakers (7-11) and Pacers (11-8) set to satisfy Monday (10:30 p.m. ET), listed below are 5 inquiries to reply as L.A. considers whether or not to deal or to not deal.

When might this commerce occur?

When the Lakers began the season 0-5, Wojnarowski reported L.A. would wait till round Thanksgiving earlier than seeking to improve the group. The considering behind that timing, group sources mentioned, was threefold. Lakers vice chairman of basketball operations and normal supervisor Rob Pelinka wished to see how the group that was assembled within the offseason, that includes six gamers from final season’s group, regarded collectively; he wished to provide first-year head coach Darvin Ham the possibility to deliver his imaginative and prescient for reinvigorating Westbrook to life; and he did not wish to come off as determined with early-season commerce speak, figuring out different groups would take benefit in any potential negotiations.

The place issues stand now could be an adjusted timeline for L.A. The Lakers count on extra groups might be keen to have interaction them in commerce talks after Dec. 15, when contracts that had been signed in the summertime are eligible to be moved, sources mentioned. However even with extra prospects opening up, league enterprise slows across the holidays, so the percentages of any motion earlier than mid-January are distant.

After all, the deeper into the season it will get with the Pacers nonetheless trying like a playoff lock within the Jap Convention, the extra Indiana’s stance on unloading present expertise for future flexibility might change. The Pacers’ proprietor, actual property mogul Herb Simon, is 88 years outdated. Whereas most league governors worth chasing championships above all else and like rebuilds over mediocrity, the Lakers aren’t satisfied Simon would dismantle a profitable group to tank for the No. 1 draft prospect in Victor Wembanyama, sources mentioned, preferring to get pleasure from a aggressive group in his autumn years.

What would Turner and Hield deliver to the desk?

The Lakers rank twenty eighth within the league in 3-point share (31.9), pushed by a league-worst wide-open 3-point subject aim share and a catch-and-shoot 3-point subject aim share that additionally ranks twenty eighth, in keeping with Second Spectrum monitoring.

Their wide-open 3-point share, outlined as a shot taken when the closest defender is at the very least 6 toes away on the time of launch, is traditionally dangerous — if their 31.9% mark on wide-open 3s sticks, it might be the worst charge of any group in any season since participant monitoring started in 2013-14.

Including Hield might go a protracted option to fixing that. He is sixth within the league in 3-pointers made per sport (3.8). He is additionally second in made catch-and-shoot 3s per sport, behind solely Klay Thompson, and ranks within the high 5 in accuracy on wide-open 3s.

Hield might permit the Lakers to get extra out of LeBron James, who has assisted on probably the most 3s in NBA historical past. His Lakers teammates this season are capturing 22.9% on wide-open 3s off his passes, which is the worst share for any passer who has created at the very least 40 wide-open 3 alternatives this season, in keeping with Second Spectrum.

And Turner, who’s in a contract yr, is placing up career-best numbers in scoring (18.2 factors), FG% (55.9), 3FG% (43.1), FT% (82.9) and rebounds (8.1) per sport. He has performed in 14 of 19 video games for the Pacers after struggling an ankle harm that sidelined him for the primary week of the season.

The Lakers’ protection has allowed opponents to shoot 68% on the rim in November, seventh worst within the league this month. Turner might help there, too. The 26-year-old is averaging 2.8 blocks per sport, a class he has led the league in twice in his eight seasons.

And he would permit Anthony Davis to proceed enjoying inside, the place he prefers, together with his vary from deep.

Is Westbrook nonetheless an issue for L.A.?

Not essentially, however his contract is. The Lakers haven’t got sufficient dependable gamers and turning Westbrook’s $47.1 million contract into two rotation gamers will get them nearer to the depth wanted for a postseason run.

Westbrook’s 15.7 factors and eight.1 assists per sport as a reserve have been a uncommon vivid spot within the Lakers’ season. After struggling a lot final yr, he has discovered a rhythm because the chief of the second unit.

A few of Westbrook’s decision-making has been second guessed — notably by Davis following a loss to the Kings on Nov. 11 that dropped the Lakers to 2-10. “Couple ‘my bads’ at the end of the first half, and they go on a 14-5 run,” Davis mentioned, referring to a tough stretch by the purpose guard when L.A. misplaced momentum going into halftime. “Certain moments where we can’t have ‘my bads.'” Westbrook can be capturing a career-worst 39.4% from the sector and has the seventh-worst turnover charge within the league, whereas enjoying the fewest minutes of anybody within the backside 10.

Ham, who adjusted Westbrook’s position from starter to sixth man simply 5 video games into the season, has repeatedly championed the 15-year veteran because the change.

“I love what he’s bringing, coming off with that second unit and giving us a boost when needed,” Ham mentioned when requested, after James suffered a groin harm earlier this month, if Westbrook would return to the beginning lineup. “Just him being able to orchestrate and be Russ. Dominate the ball, dominate the pace and play free.”

But when the Lakers intend to improve the roster this season round James to provide the 20-year veteran his greatest likelihood at one other championship run, as Pelinka mentioned was his aim over the summer time because the “caretaker of LeBron’s legacy,” then it might merely need to contain Westbrook’s contract.

So what issues stay?

Let’s begin with Turner’s availability. He has performed in solely 89 out of 154 of Indiana’s video games the previous two seasons due to foot and ankle accidents — hardly dependable insurance coverage ought to Davis get hit by accidents, as he has the previous two seasons.

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LeBron James will get the free ball, feeds Russell Westbrook, who offers it again to LeBron for the dunk.

There are different questions the Lakers’ entrance workplace thought-about when evaluating the commerce earlier than coaching camp, sources mentioned, that left L.A. reluctant to go all-in. Questions equivalent to:

Would both Turner or Hield be clear-cut members of L.A.’s closing lineup in a playoff sport?

Would Turner be capable of keep on the court docket if the opponent went small?

Would Hield deliver sufficient defensively, or would Ham belief in a wing like Austin Reaves or Troy Brown Jr. extra in that spot?

And, recalling the franchise’s trades for free-agent-to-be Dwight Howard in 2012 and Dennis Schroder in 2020, is it value risking what may very well be helpful future draft capital to accumulate Turner for what might quantity to just a few months in Los Angeles if he walks the way in which Howard and Schroder did?

Would the Lakers’ season be saved by a commerce?

Possibly. There may be perception shared by leaders within the Lakers’ locker room, sources mentioned, that the group is barely a few gamers away from turning this group right into a authentic contender. However buying the correct gamers might take a number of trades.

Which is why attaching each 2027 and 2029 draft picks to get a deal accomplished with Indiana is such a intestine examine. Pelinka admitted as a lot on media day in September. “You have one shot to make a trade with multiple picks,” he mentioned. “So if you make that trade, and I’m not talking about one particular player on our team, but it has to be the right one.”

In any other case, possibly there’s a option to search one deal centered on Westbrook and one of many two picks, and one other utilizing one thing like Patrick Beverley’s wage ($13 million) and Kendrick Nunn’s ($5.3 million) — the one different contracts on the Lakers’ books hefty sufficient to pair collectively to wage match for a confirmed participant — plus the opposite choose so as to add one other participant of consequence.

However the clock is ticking. Even with improved play as of late, at 7-11 L.A. continues to be three video games out of the ultimate play-in spot within the Western Convention.

And the schedule is unforgiving main as much as the mid-January timeline when L.A. anticipates presents might materialize. Together with Monday’s sport in opposition to the Pacers, 15 of the Lakers’ subsequent 23 video games between now and Jan. 9 are on the highway. If at that time, almost 40 video games into the season, the Lakers are nonetheless beneath .500 — an inexpensive concern contemplating L.A. is 2-6 on the highway to date — would leveraging the longer term to pour into this group be value it?

Or ought to the Lakers play this season out with the roster as presently constructed, use salary-cap area to signal free brokers in the summertime and discover trades involving picks after draft night time when they may have the participant they chose with their 2023 first-round choose out there to deal?

For now in Lakerland, there stay way more questions than solutions.