This news comes from Marc Stein of The Stein Line, who explained it this way, citing a league source at the Las Vegas summer league:
“The source’s thinking: After adding Mitchell, New York would be expected to explore scenarios to trade away Julius Randle. And Randle, just one season removed from his breakthrough to All-Star and All-NBA status, is presumably the sort of player that the Lakers would have to consider taking on if — IF — they are unable to use Westbrook’s $47.1 million expiring contract in a trade for Kyrie Irving.”
Granted, if the Knicks were able to acquire Mitchell, their backcourt would consist of Mitchell and the recently signed Jalen Brunson. It would be hard to envision them wanting Westbrook too — though if anyone could make a three-guard lineup work, it is probably Tom Thibodeau.
Interestingly, they also have former NBA MVP Derrick Rose on the roster.
Anyway, while Stein never suggested this, the Knicks could also try to buyout Westbrook’s contract if it came down to it — or even look for a third team to take on Westbrook. But as Stein did relay repeatedly, that is all one very big “IF.”
Clearly, the Lakers’ priority seems to acquire Irving from the Nets, and to move Westbrook, so the Knicks’ speculation is just that — speculation. Stein made that clear.
But it is something to monitor in this offseason of teams looking to move some of their more high-priced and highly sought veterans. The Lakers, in particular, are looking to make some moves, as we relayed here.