In a surprise to no one, Russell Westbrook has reportedly picked up his Los Angeles Lakers contract option for next season.
On Tuesday, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the 2017 NBA MVP has decided to exercise the option and play in Los Angeles with the Lakers for another year. “Russell Westbrook is planning to exercise his $47.1 million option for the 2022-2023 season to return to the franchise, sources told ESPN,” Wojnarowski wrote.
Related: Lakers tell Russell Westbrook if he returns he needs to ‘focus first on defense’
Los Angeles Lakers will pay Russell Westbrook the fourth-highest annual salary in 2022-2023
The move is not a shocking development considering the amount of money the nine-time All-Star is set to make next season. In 2022-2023, only three others will make more than Russell Westbrook. Those being 2022 NBA Finals MVP Stephen Curry, 76ers star James Harden, and Rockets guard John Wall.
- Russell Westbrook stats (2021-2022): 18.5 PPG, 7.4 REB, 7.1 AST, 1.0 STL
Last week, Wall opted into his own massive contract for next season. However, his representation and the Rockets are expected to agree to a buyout, and early reports suggest the former Wizards star is set to join the Clippers once he becomes a free agent.
While there are still questions about if Westbrook will suit up in a Lakers uniform next season, there was little doubt he would opt in to the final year of the five-year, $206 million deal he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder before the 2018-2019 season.
Despite various reports of LA looking to move the 33-year-old in a trade, the Lakers front office and new head coach Darvin Ham seem open to Westbrook returning next season. Even though he had one of his worst seasons as a professional in his first year wearing the purple-and-gold, general manager Rob Pelinka recently said the team would welcome his return. As long as he makes defense a primary focus next season.