The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t do anything to upgrade or even alter, their roster prior to the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, even though they had the opportunity to. The Houston Rockets were willing to trade veteran point guard John Wall for Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, as long as the Lakers also included a future first-round pick. The Lakers declined this deal, as they didn’t want to part with the pick, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes. The pick would have been in the 2027 NBA Draft.
While first-round picks are very valuable, when you have a guy like LeBron James still playing at the level that he’s been at this season, and another All-Star in Anthony Davis, you kind of have to go all-in as an organization, even if it costs you a future first-round pick. If the Lakers thought that substituting Wall in for Westbrook would make them better, then not making the move over the pick would be a questionable decision, at the least.
We’ll never know how much Wall would have improved the Lakers, if at all, but the argument could certainly be made that the Lakers should have pulled the trigger. Westbrook clearly isn’t working out well with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of L.A.’s roster, and as a result he has turned in some of the worst basketball of his career this season. The Lakers are struggling, too. They currently sit ninth in the West with a 26-30 record and don’t look like a legitimate contender, at all. Shaking things up probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Now, the Lakers only path to improvement — other than internally — is the buyout market, which will only get you so far.
According to most online betting houses, the Lakers aren’t even in the top 5 favorites for the title, despite their star-packed team.
Wall and Westbrook were already traded for each other once before, as the Rockets sent Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for Wall and a 2023 protected first-round pick in 2020. Time will tell if not swapping them again is something that the Lakers will come to regret.