As the Los Angeles Lakers and Russell Westbrook point fingers at one another for an ugly 2021-’22 NBA season, both sides certainly agree that separation is necessary. It’s going to be even more complicated considering how Westbrook is viewed around the league.
Set to exercise his $47.063 million player option this summer, Westbrook’s contract is one of the worst in the NBA. While the 33-year-old’s value is slightly improved by the nature of his expiring contract next season, evaluators still don’t view Westbrook favorably.
Los Angeles fully intends to explore all of its options this offseason. Westbrook is already being floated in NBA trade rumors with the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers identified as potential landing spots. If a deal doesn’t come to fruition, the All-Star point guard could be waived.
As detailed by Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, trading Westbrook will prove especially difficult this summer. Those that view Westbrook most favorably see him as a means of dumping bad contracts that stretch across multiple seasons. For other scouts and team executives, the evaluation of Westbrook is even less favorable.
“Some scouts and executives around the league don’t view Westbrook as a useful player at this stage, especially with a nearly $50 million price tag.”Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike on NBA evaluations of Russell Westbrook
Westbrook’s comments after the season did himself no favors. Between blaming Frank Vogel and citing his drop in triple-doubles as major causes for his disappointing play, that likely raises more doubts around the league about Westbrook’s ability to play winning basketball.
While the Lakers are to blame for making the disastrous trade, Westbrook burned bridges in Los Angeles and few around the NBA likely believe Vogel was wrong for benching the point guard in critical situations this season.
- Russell Westbrook stats (2021-’22): 18.5 ppg, 7.4 RPG, 7.1 apg, 3.7 turnovers per game
Even dumping Westbrook’s contract on a team with cap room might prove difficult. The Oklahoma City Thunder can absorb the salary and would love to add a 2027 first-round pick, but Westbrook wouldn’t help Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
It’s still possible the Lakers find a trade partner, but it will be a deal resulting in them trading one problem for another. Given all the uncertainty surrounding this organization and roster, it’s safe to say Nick Nurse isn’t leaving the Toronto Raptors for this job.