For a while earlier this summer it seemed as if the Los Angeles Lakers would retain embattled point guard Russell Westbrook for another season.
Westbrook picked up the $47.06 million option on his contract for the 2022-23 campaign. Despite some trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets surrounding Kyrie Irving, things were trending in the direction of the struggling former NBA MVP returning to the Lakers.
That might not be the case right now. According to Sam Amico of Hoops Wire, the Lakers are “more determined to move him (Westbrook) now than they were at the trade deadline.”
There were talks between the Lakers and Houston Rockets ahead of the February 10 NBA trade deadline that would’ve sent Westbrook back to the Rockets (briefly before a buyout) in exchange for John Wall. Said talks broke down when Los Angeles refused to offer up a future first-round pick to Houston.
Following the Lakers’ hiring of Darvin Ham as their next head coach, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Westbrook would return. He was in attendance at Ham’s intro press conference. Meanwhile, Westbrook just recently had a meeting with LeBron James and Anthony Davis to discuss the 2022-23 season. Right now, the Lakers seem to be changing course internally in hopes of moving Westbrook after an ugly 49-loss season.
Russell Westbrook trade market from Los Angeles Lakers seems limited
As noted above, Los Angeles’ brass has pushed back against giving up future draft assets to move Westbrook’s bloated contract. It also wants an upgrade (or at least a better fit) in exchange for the aging and regressed former superstar.
- Russell Westbrook stats (2020-21): 22.2 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 11.7 APG, 44% shooting, 32% 3-point
- Russell Westbrook stats (2021-22): 18.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.1 APG, 44% shooting, 30% 3-point
The Los Angeles Lakers had recent conversations with the Indiana Pacers that would’ve sent Westbrook out of town as the centerpiece in a package for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. Those talks are now dead.
The Lakers were reportedly willing to offer up one first-round pick and multiple second rounders for the Pacers to take Westbrook off their hands. That was a non-starter for Indiana.
As talks centering around a Westbrook trade to Brooklyn are seemingly dead, other teams have emerged as potential suitors. That includes the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and New York Knicks.
Though, there’s a ton of different caveats here. New York’s interest in Westbrook is under the guise that it is able to acquire Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz. If that were the case, it would then look to unload Julius Randle’s multi-year deal in exchange for Westbrook’s expiring contract. We’re not even sure the Los Angeles Lakers would want to re-acquire Randle.
As for the Mavericks, one NBA insider responded “hell no” to a report that the defending Western Conference runner-ups would have interest. Utah’s inclusion here would also likely be under the guise that it could pick up more draft assets by acquiring Westbrook’s contract, only to buy out the veteran guard.
Either way, the Lakers are attempting to do something to build a better core around LeBron James. He’s seemingly pushing for a Westbrook trade. But right now, it seems highly unlikely.