The Los Angeles Lakers’ front office refused to move both their 2027 and 2029 first round picks to trade Russell Westbrook in the offseason, eventually forcing Westbrook to return to a team where he clearly is not wanted. Now, General Manager Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss are left to conduct damage control, searching around the league for the right trade package. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Spurs guard Josh Richardson has been on the Lakers’ radar for weeks now.
Lakers receive: Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott
Spurs receive: Russell Westbrook, 2027 first round pick
In this trade, the Lakers are still forced to part ways with a first round pick, but that will be the only way to move on from Russell Westbrook. There is not a single team in the league that will take on Westbrook without needing some sort of draft compensation.
While trades with the Jazz or Hornets may bring in players that can have an immediate and consistent impact, this trade with Spurs is more about getting rid of Westbrook — addition by subtraction.
Josh Richardson is a decent wing who can show flashes of consistency, but has struggled to make the most of his minutes when they really count. In his short stint with the eventual Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics last season, Richardson averaged 9.7 points in 24.7 minutes per game, but shot just 44.3% from the field. He was eventually shipped to San Antonio, where he started in seven out of his 21 games with the Spurs. Richardson would likely find minutes on a Lakers team starved for wings.
Doug McDermott adds three-point shooting ability to this team, but that’s about it. A career 41% three-point shooter, McDermott would be the only 40%+ shooter on the entire Lakers roster. He’s a viable off-ball defender, but not the player you want picking up any legitimate offensive talents in this league.
For the Spurs, they lose two rotation pieces on their way to the fight for 18-year old Victor Wembanyama, and would buy-out Russell Westbrook, who is on an expiring contract. They gain a valuable 2027 first round pick from the Lakers, who could be in the bottom half of the league in five years.
The Lakers must offer this to the Spurs in hopes of getting off Russell Westbrook while losing just a single first round pick. They are simply not a good team when Westbrook is on the floor, the paint clogged and passing lanes constantly cut off. The Westbrook-Lakers era is coming to a close — his next destination may be San Antonio.