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Why the Lakers should want Gordon Hayward in a Russell Westbrook trade

In their search for a potential trade partner to offload the final year of Russell Westbrook’s $47 million contract — presuming he does in fact pick up his player option before the June 30 deadline — the Lakers will be in a desperately tough spot.

Not only is Westbrook’s contract prohibitively expensive — so much so that at almost 40% of the projected 2022-23 salary cap, team-building around him becomes hyper-limited — he was also one of the worst volume usage players in the NBA this season. Further, LeBron’s age and the possibility of his impending free agency means that the Lakers’ window of contention is closing quickly, if it hasn’t already, forcing them to gun for major upgrades this offseason.