When talking to sources around the league, if a Westbrook trade is brought up the reaction I’ve gotten has either been a laugh or an eye roll. There is no market for the 33-year-old former All-Star who is not a threat from the outside and has struggled to fit next to LeBron James this season with the Lakers (as evidenced by his recent end-of-game benching).
Well, no market is an overstatement, according to Marc Stein in his latest newsletter on Friday.
There is at least one team out there that would take him, league sources say, if the conditions are right.
That team, surprisingly, is the Houston Rockets…
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.
“Sufficient draft compensation” would mean the Lakers throwing in their 2027 first-round pick (the next first-round pick the Lakers can trade).
There are two main reasons the Lakers should have zero interest in a Westbrook for John Wall trade.
First, Wall is not an upgrade from Westbrook on the court or the salary sheet. Both players have a player option for $47 million for next season, and both are widely expected to pick them up — financially, this does not put the Lakers in a better position. On the court in 2020-21 (the last season Wall played), Westbrook was the better player. Neither of them are good shooters (almost identical from 3 that season), but Westbrook gets to the rim and finishes better than Wall does at this point. When it comes to advanced stats, Westbrook was a slightly above-average player while Wall was average to slightly below average. While Wall has the reputation of a better catch-and-shoot player than Westbrook, he’s not much better at this point. Bottom line, this would be a downgrade on the court for Los Angeles.
And they would have to give up a first-round pick to do it. That’s the second reason for Rob Pelinka to hang up the phone on this call. That 2027 first-round pick is valuable — Stein says it is more highly valued around the league than Talen Horton-Tucker — because by that point LeBron will be retired and the Lakers could well be rebuilding (or at least re-tooling around Anthony Davis). That may end up being a fairly valuable pick. Maybe not, but the potential of that value is worth more than getting John Wall back in desperation just to shake things up.
Westbrook and Wall were traded for each other back in December of 2020. Wall has remained with the Rocket while Westbrook has bounced around. It’s possible he bounces again next offseason, but don’t expect a deadline deal shipping Westbrook out of Los Angeles.