The Los Angeles Lakers have made it no secret that they want to trade away Russell Westbrook. He is a poor fit both on and off the court in a variety of ways.
That said – teams aren’t exactly lining up to take Westbrook off the Lakers’ hands. His flaws are simply too great.
In order to dump Westbrook, L.A. would need to give up at least one draft pick. Thus far, they have been unwilling to do so.
So what happens if Westbrook cannot be moved?
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, if that scenario materializes, the Lakers will attempt to re-insert Westbrook into the lineup.
“Yet I am also hearing that, if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains determined to carve out a real role for Westbrook,” Stein wrote.
“Sources say that the Lakers, to date, have strongly resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him like the Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for longtime Westbrook adversary Patrick Beverley.”
Seeing as L.A. played Westbrook in all but four games last season, this all makes a lot of sense.
“If you followed social media this week, you surely saw that the Lakers’ messaging that Westbrook is in their plans is increasing in frequency even post-Beverley trade, suggesting that the club is bracing for the status quo as a highly anticipated Media Day in both L.A. and Brooklyn draws near on Sept. 26,” Stein continued.
“There was an unexpected LeBron James tweet touting that a bounce-back season for Westbrook is looming, followed by a tweet from the Lakers’ official account highlighting his offseason preparations alongside various teammates.”
It seems that, although the Lakers’ Plan A was to move Westbrook all along, a Plan B is also in place. And by all accounts it has been communicated to Westbrook as well.
“Rob Pelinka says he and Davin Ham have had multiple meetings with Russell Westbrook and have been honest about Russ’ role on the team and that he needs to be a defense-first player,” Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported not long ago.
How receptive Westbrook will ultimately be to that role remains to be seen.
As of just last week, he was still lashing out on social media.
The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/fcnbsAxhhM
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 29, 2022
There are three teams out there willing to take Westbrook off L.A.’s hands – for a steep price.
Will the Lakers ultimately go that route or opt to retain their disgruntled guard for another year?
Time will tell.