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Would Lakers need to surrender two first-round picks to trade Westbrook?

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on April 1, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Lakers have two first-round picks they can trade — 2027 and 2029, although they could convey a year earlier — but have been very reluctant to include them in any trade negotiations. After dealing away a lot of picks to land Anthony Davis (which resulted in banner No. 17), the Lakers want to restock, not keep sending out future picks.

They don’t have a choice if they want to trade Russell Westbrook. And while the Lakers reportedly have put one pick (with little or no protections) in their conversations about a Kyrie Irving trade with the Nets, it may require both picks to get the deal done reports Michael Scotto of Hoopshype on the Hoopshype podcast:

When it comes to any potential Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving trade talks, or if the Lakers are moving Westbrook to any team, both future first-round picks have to be included. You already saw Indiana decline multiple second-round picks (in addition to one first-round pick)… If the Nets were going to get Westbrook, my assumption would be there will be a third team involved, and one of those first-round picks would go to a team with salary cap space like the Pacers or Spurs, for example. They’d likely have more of an appetite for buying him out to get a first-round pick.

That is the most-discussed and logical scenario for a Westbrook for Irving trade: Irving to the Lakers, a pick to the Nets (plus maybe a player or two, but lower-level contracts), and Westbrook and a pick to the Spurs (or Pacers). That team would then buy out Westbrook, making him a free agent.

There are a lot of hurdles to getting that done, starting with getting the Lakers to put both picks in the mix. Sources around the league say the Lakers have been reluctant to put both picks in the mix. Then there are the Nets, who want to clear up the Kevin Durant trade situation — which continues to drag out — before closing in on any Irving trades.

As Scotto noted, the Lakers talked with the Pacers about a Westbrook for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner trade, but that would require both first-round picks, and the Lakers weren’t interested.

With LeBron James at age 37 and Anthony Davis in his prime, the Lakers are as “win now” a team as there is in the league. If the goal is to win banner No. 18 with LeBron (and get him to sign a contract extension), does L.A. have a choice other than to put both picks in the mix eventually? Even if it means future pain?

This feels like a situation that is going to drag out into training camp. Maybe longer. Which is why new Lakers coach Darvin Ham continues to talk up Westbrook. He knows that may be his reality at the start of the season.