Posted on: December 4, 2022, 10:26h.
Last updated on: December 4, 2022, 10:26h.
The Chicago Bulls look lost this season with an 8-13 record. The Bulls could blow up their team by dealing forward DeMar DeRozan and center Nikola Vucevic to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade for point guard Russell Westbrook.
Superstar LeBron James from the Lakers recently passed Magic Johnson for sixth on the NBA all-time assists list, and he inches closer to passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. A healthy Anthony Davis is playing out of his mind averaging 27.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. The Lakers have a top five defense, but their offense needs a boost and seriously lacks reliable 3-point shooters.
LeBron hinted that the Lakers, currently on the playoff bubble with a 9-12 record, are a couple veterans away from making a playoff run. But can the Lakers add those key players in a Westbrook trade without giving up any first-round draft picks?
The Lakers are ranked #13 in the Western Conference. Only the Houston Rockets (6-17) and San Antonio Spurs (6-17) have a worst record out west, and both teams are openly tanking to secure prospect Victor Wembanyama in the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Bulls are ranked #12 in the Eastern Conference. Only the Charlotte Hornets (7-15), Detroit Pistons (6-18), and Orlando Magic (5-19) have a worst record than the Bulls. All three teams are also tanking for a shot at turning around their franchises with Wembanyama.
The Lakers are +5500 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Bulls have much longer odds at +15000.
Bulls Trying to Trade Vucevic
The Bulls didn’t think they’d be in their current position. Point guard Lonzo Ball has been out much longer than anyone anticipated. He never recovered from last year’s knee surgery in time to join the team in the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The Bulls secured the #6 seed last year, but the #3 Milwaukee Bucks knocked them out in five games.
The Bulls thought Ball would be ready this preseason, but he underwent another surgery to clean up his knee. He’s missed the entire start of this season and the Bulls have no timetable for his return.
Vucevic is in the final season of a four-year contract. With an expiring contract worth $22 million this season, the Bulls thought they were going to trade Vucevic in the offseason. They fielded a few offers from the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers, but never acted on a deal. In 22 games this season, the 32-year-old Vucevic averages 16 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game.
DeRozan averages 25.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game. He’s in the second year of a three-year contract which pays him $27.3 million. He thought he was going to the Lakers two summers ago, but the Lakers misfired with a trade for Westbrook instead of signing DeRozan.
Between DeRozan and Vucevic, their salary comes close to matching a trade for the hefty price the Lakers pay Westbrook at $47 million.
Lakers Will Not Give Up Draft Picks in Any Westbrook Trade
A reluctant Westbrook wanted to start, but he’s since embraced his role as the sixth man averaging 15 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 5.3 rebounds per game. He’s even the betting favorite to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year at +130 odds according to DraftKings.
The Lakers had numerous discussions to trade Westbrook. Yet, any potential deal fizzled out over additional draft picks. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka will not budge on his hardline stance that the team is not willing to give up one future first-round draft pick, let alone two first-rounders to the Bulls.
I can tell you 100% for sure that the Lakers have had internal discussions about that very possibility, if it would ever come up,” said Zach Lowe on ESPN’s Lowe Post Podcast. “Not that they would do that. Let me be clear.”
It will be up to the Bulls to persuade the Lakers to give up at least one draft pick in a Westbrook for DeRozan/Vucevic trade.
The Lakers have a shortage of future first-round picks after a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, and a terrible trade for Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. They Lakers only own their first-round picks in the 2027 and 2029 NBA Draft, which is why Pelinka and the Lakers are protective of their only draft capital the rest of the decade.