Westbrook, Hield, Turner: Five questions to answer before the proposed Lakers-Pacers trade

After the Indiana Pacers play the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday at Crypto.com Enviornment and proceed on the highway to Sacramento, middle Myles Turner might need combined emotions about boarding the crew airplane as an alternative 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 am the Lakers, I take a really arduous have a look at this with the place that you simply’re in,” Turner stated, responding to a query concerning the potential swap as a visitor on ESPN’s “The Woj Pod” with Adrian Wojnarowski. “I do know what I can present for a crew — my management, my shot-blocking, my 3-point capability and simply my capability to make performs on the market on the ground.”

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 instructed 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 worth to pay for a haul that would not indisputably propel them to contender standing, sources stated.

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

With the Lakers and Pacers assembly on Monday, listed here are 5 inquiries to reply as L.A. considers whether or not to deal or to not deal.

When may 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 crew. The considering behind that timing, crew sources stated, was threefold. Lakers vp of basketball operations and common supervisor Rob Pelinka wished to see how the group that was assembled within the offseason, that includes six gamers from final season’s crew, regarded collectively; he wished to present first-year head coach Darvin Ham the prospect to convey his imaginative and prescient for reinvigorating Westbrook to life; and he did not wish to come off as determined with early-season commerce speak, understanding different groups would take benefit in any potential negotiations.

The place issues stand now could be an adjusted timeline for L.A. The Lakers anticipate extra groups will likely be prepared 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 stated. However even with extra prospects opening up, league enterprise slows across the holidays, so the chances of any motion earlier than mid-January are distant.

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

What would Turner and Hield convey 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 objective share and a catch-and-shoot 3-point subject objective share that additionally ranks twenty eighth, based on Second Spectrum monitoring.

Their wide-open 3-point share, outlined as a shot taken when the closest defender is not less than 6 toes away on the time of launch, is traditionally unhealthy — if their 31.9% mark on wide-open 3s sticks, it will be the worst price of any crew in any season since participant monitoring started in 2013-14.

Including Hield may go an extended approach to fixing that. He is sixth within the league in 3-pointers made per recreation (3.8). He is additionally second in made catch-and-shoot 3s per recreation, behind solely Klay Thompson, and ranks within the prime 5 in accuracy on wide-open 3s.

Hield may 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 not less than 40 wide-open 3 alternatives this season, based on 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 recreation. 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 may help there, too. The 26-year-old is averaging 2.8 blocks per recreation, a class he has led the league in twice in his eight seasons.

And he would permit Anthony Davis to proceed taking part in inside, the place he prefers, along 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 recreation 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’ on the finish of the primary half, and so they go on a 14-5 run,” Davis stated, referring to a tough stretch by the purpose guard when L.A. misplaced momentum going into halftime. “Sure moments the place we will not have ‘my bads.'” Westbrook can also be capturing a career-worst 39.4% from the sector and has the seventh-worst turnover price within the league, whereas taking part in the fewest minutes of anybody within the backside 10.

Ham, who adjusted Westbrook’s function from starter to sixth man simply 5 video games into the season, has constantly championed the 15-year veteran for the reason that change.

“I like what he is bringing, coming off with that second unit and giving us a lift when wanted,” Ham stated when requested, after James suffered a groin harm earlier this month, if Westbrook would return to the beginning lineup. “Simply him having the ability to orchestrate and be Russ. Dominate the ball, dominate the tempo and play free.”

But when the Lakers intend to improve the roster this season round James to present the 20-year veteran his finest probability at one other championship run, as Pelinka stated was his objective over the summer time because the “caretaker of LeBron’s legacy,” then it will merely must 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.

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

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

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

Would Hield convey 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 price risking what could possibly be worthwhile future draft capital to amass Turner for what may quantity to just a few months in Los Angeles if he walks the best way Howard and Schroder did?

Would the Lakers’ season be saved by a commerce?

Possibly. There’s perception shared by leaders within the Lakers’ locker room, sources stated, that the crew is simply a few gamers away from turning this group right into a professional contender. However buying the suitable gamers may take a number of trades.

Which is why attaching each 2027 and 2029 draft picks to get a deal achieved with Indiana is such a intestine verify. Pelinka admitted as a lot on media day in September. “You will have one shot to make a commerce with a number of picks,” he stated. “So if you happen to make that commerce, and I am not speaking about one explicit participant on our crew, however it needs to be the suitable one.”

In any other case, possibly there’s a approach 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 affords may materialize. Together with Monday’s recreation towards the Pacers, 15 of the Lakers’ subsequent 23 video games between now and Jan. 9 are on the highway. If at that time, practically 40 video games into the season, the Lakers are nonetheless beneath .500 — an inexpensive concern contemplating L.A. is 2-6 on the highway up to now — would leveraging the long run to pour into this group be price it?

Or ought to the Lakers play this season out with the roster as at present constructed, use salary-cap area to signal free brokers in the summertime and discover trades involving picks after draft evening 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.

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