The San Antonio Spurs' rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000s was unmatched. It seems that bitterness is still fervent, because Spurs fans didn't hesitate to body an ill-informed Lakers fan who claimed Kawhi Leonard didn't become a star until he left San Antonio.
Unfortunately, fans might have to set aside their differences because the Spurs and Lakers have long been linked with a trade involving Russell Westbrook.
Long story short, Los Angeles is desperate to offload Westbrook but are having trouble finding a buyer. Shocking, right? What team would want an aging guard who can't shoot -- but insists on doing so at an alarming clip -- and whose athleticism, which is part of what made him great to begin with, is rapidly fading?
Enter the Spurs, who are clearly setting a low bar for 2022-23, hungry for draft capital and with the ability to absorb Westbrook's albatross of a contract.
With Westbrook on the chopping block, Bleacher Report's Greg Swartz recently proposed a trade that would send Russ to San Antonio. It'd be a clear win for GM Brian Wright, but would Lakers exec Rob Pelinka settle for this unideal swap?
Would the Lakers accept this lopsided Russell Westbrook-Spurs trade?
Lakers receive: Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Westbrook, 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), 2023 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
The benefits of this deal from a Spurs perspective are quite obvious. For starters, the added draft capital would only increase their chances to select coveted prospect Victor Wembanyama No. 1 overall in next year's draft.
Additionally, offloading McDermott's contract for Westbrook's would create nearly $14 million in additional cap room for next offseason. Should the Spurs choose to be big spenders, this trade only facilitates their potential to make signings.
The Lakers are a different story, however, Their desperation to jettison Westbrook is apparent, but would they settle for McDermott and Richardson after they had their sights set on Kyrie Irving for months? The idea of poaching Buddy Hield and Myles Turner from Indiana is more appealing, but if those rumors fall through, LA might have no other choice but to accept this deal.
What McDermott and Richardson lack in star-power they more than make up for in three-point shooting, which was one of the Lakers' biggest flaws last year. Both McDermott and Richardson shot threes north of a 41% clip and would step in as Los Angeles' top marksmen (Malik Monk was their best shooter at 39.1% and he's now in Sacramento).
Dumping Westbrook's contract would also help the Lakers save $21 million and put them comfortably below the luxury tax.
Make no mistake, this wouldn't be LA's first choice, but their desire to trade Westbrook might trump what they deem as a fair trade in terms of player swaps. At face value, they'd be ridding themselves of a detriment next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis while vastly improving their biggest weakness.
That might be the best they can do at this juncture.