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The Los Angeles Lakers’ reported interest in Buddy Hield is a long-standing hallmark of the team’s recent vision at this point. They nearly acquired him last summer, pursued him ahead of February’s trade deadline this past season, and have been linked to him this summer. However, any deal involving Hield and Russell Westbrook that would see the two guards swap homes, along with other players and assets, is “currently dead,” according to The Athletic’s Bob Kravitz.
Per source, the Lakers-Pacers trade involving Russell Westbrook, Myles Turner, Buddy Hield and other assets is currently dead. That's not to say the Lakers can't come back and add a second first-round pick to the current package of picks, but for now, things are at a standstill.
— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) July 22, 2022
A Westbrook-for-Hield-and-Myles-Turner deal seems like an absolute home run for Los Angeles. The ambiguous surrounding players and picks Kravitz mentions are important, of course, but those two Indiana Pacers are superb fits alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Westbrook, meanwhile, was about as incongruent a partner as could be last season, both because of his own struggles and the actual synergy he failed to form with the Lakers’ stars.
Hield is a dynamite shooter whose ball skills seem to incrementally improve, especially during his brief Indiana tenure last season, as he posted a career-high assist rate of 20.3 percent. Turner, when healthy, is one of the NBA’s foremost defensive big men and drop coverage defenders. He’s grown as interior scorer (66.2 percent on twos last year), looks more comfortable attacking closeouts than he did early in his career and can hoist long balls as a pick-and-pop threat, even if the percentages are middling (34.9 percent from deep for his career).
Neither player is perfect. Both have warts: Hield’s defense and offensive decision-making; Turner’s passiveness, rebounding, and injury history. They’re nonetheless both a heck of a lot better fits for Los Angeles and could help vault them back into vying for homecourt out West. For now, any possibility of this manifesting seems unlikely, though.