According to reports, the Utah Jazz have emerged as one of the frontrunners to land Russell Westbrook in a potential trade deal. This comes with a huge catch for the Los Angeles Lakers, though, as it appears that they will need to part ways with some of their most valuable assets if they want to offload Russ to Utah.
NBA insider Jova Buha of The Athletic recently sat down with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype for a tell-all interview. According to Buha, Jazz team exec Danny Ainge could be amenable to taking Westbrook and his $47.1 million deal. However, he won’t do so without ample compensation:
With Danny Ainge, anytime he’s involved with the Lakers, let’s be clear, Ainge is going to try to squeeze the Lakers like a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice. I don’t think there’s any way he’s going to Utah without the two first-round picks. If anything, Ainge is going to try and get them both unprotected like he’s trying to do with the Knicks and get as many unprotected picks as possible (for Donovan Mitchell).
That’s quite a huge ask. Ainge and the Jazz are pretty much going to ask the Lakers to give up their future in order to rid themselves of Westbrook. Are they truly this desperate to move on from the former league MVP?
The answer to that question might be a not-so-resounding “yes.” The fact that they brought in Patrick Beverley, who is literally Westbrook’s biggest personal rival in the entire league, seems to be a clear indication that they indeed intend to move Russell Westbrook. Whether or not they are willing to give in to Ainge’s demands, however, remains to be seen.