Rumors of a Russell Westbrook trade have emerged, with two early favorites

Two teams have said they want to buy guard Russell Westbrook from the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers were expected to compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy by the end of the 202122 regular season, especially after acquiring guard Russell Westbrook. Instead, the team finished 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record, failing to qualify for the play-in tournament.

Westbrook was never a big hit in Los Angeles, and he could be moved this offseason. Who, however, would be interested in acquiring him?

According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets could be involved in a Westbrook trade with the Lakers.

“Teams such as Charlotte and Indiana, two that league sources say could be involved, could possibly move a package of players to the Lakers for Westbrook,” wrote Woike.

Russell Westbrook trade rumors: Pacers and Hornets are early frontrunners

The Pacers have already been linked to Westbrook. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, rival executives believe Indiana could be a possible suitor for the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player.

With a 25-57 record, Indiana finished 13th in the Eastern Conference.

The Hornets finished 10th in the East for the second year in a row, forcing them to play in a play-in game. The Hornets were blown out again, this time by the Atlanta Hawks, as they had been the previous year.

Dealing for Westbrook is complicated by the fact that if he accepts his player option for the 2022-23 season, he will earn $47 million. If he does, the Lakers will have to negotiate a trade with interested teams, which could be difficult.

Westbrook played 78 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from three-point range.

This offseason, the Lakers will be the team to watch. They must find a new head coach to replace Frank Vogel, who was fired at the end of the season, and figure out how to build a contender in the tough Western Conference with LeBron James entering his final year under contract.

Of course, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can find a trade partner for Westbrook or if he returns for the start of next season.