The Lakers The front office had one primary job going into the off-season: moving on from Russell Westbrook. After a disastrous 2021-22 season that saw the team finish 11th – behind a team that was a salesman on the trade deadline – and culminated in Westbrook blaming everyone but himself in his exit interview, it seemed pointless to get dressed. With the Los Angeles Lakers again.
However, with less than three weeks before boot camp begins, the national consensus is that this is exactly what will happen. The Lakers may have toned down Westbrook’s comments after months of reflection, or they believe injuries were the real culprit for last season’s failure. Perhaps the other teams’ commercial requirements were too onerous, or the Lakers were unreasonable in what they were willing to offer to offload one of the league’s most polarizing players.
Whatever the case, people across the NBA are now expecting Westbrook to stay with the Lakers at the start of the regular season.
The Lakers were reportedly not willing to even move on first
For most holiday times, the sticking point of any deal with Westbrook has been Los Angeles refused to include first-round picks in the tradedespite what was stated He told LeBron James when he signed an extension that they would – but only if such a move significantly increases the team’s championship odds.
It is suitable for the Lakers. They were so far excluded from the property dispute a year ago that a single deal likely wouldn’t change calculus, so they theoretically protect their futures. But the front office is also wasting LeBron’s remaining years and expecting the fan base to be okay with another team vying for a place to play, at best.
The team’s consolidation in regards to future picks appears to have grown recently. Eric Pincus reported on the Bleacher Report That the Lakers might not even be willing to give up one future first to get away from Ross.
As of now, rival executives aren’t sure the Lakers will send one future first-round team, let alone two, out of Westbrook’s contract unless a return package dramatically improves the team. So what is the plan?
The idea that the Lakers might think a single first-round pick would do the trick is audacious in itself. It has always been understood that the price of giving up a Westbrook contract would be the first price, and the price of acquiring an additional talent would be the first price. No wonder the Lakers couldn’t come up with a deal if they didn’t co-opt one in the future.
Pincus is right about the money when he asks, “So what’s the plan?” Given these potential trade restrictions, the only possible path forward is for the Lakers to give in to keep Westbrook. Why they chose to do so — again, given how objectively intimidating the basketball producer was last season — remains anyone’s guess.
Have the Lakers been in business talks with nicks jazz?
Before Cleveland Cavaliers Traded for Donovan Mitchell, the New York Knicks were still the supposed destination of the former Jazz All-Star, and there was speculation the Lakers could help grease the wheels of the New York-Utah trade. Mark Stein, an NBA insider pointed out That the Lakers’ first 2027 and 2029 contract plus Westbrook’s expiring senior contract would help smooth the trade. Pincus collapsed as well Lakers involvement mechanicsand explained how they could end up with valuable players by helping match salaries.
Participation in such a trade would have required the Lakers to trade at least one future first round, and possibly two, without rising to contender status. This doesn’t sound like a deal that fits the stated team spirit. On ESPN’s Hope Collective PodcastBrian Windhurst stated that the Lakers were not actually involved in the Knicks/Jazz trade discussions:
From what I’m told, while it makes sense that the Knicks had a three-way deal with the Jazz and Lakers, I’m told that was never part of the conversations, and that there are three-way constructions between the Jazz and the Knicks about Donovan Mitchell where the players would go to a third team – I mean They obviously didn’t cut a deal – but the Lakers weren’t directly involved in it.
Not participating in a deal that would have earned them several winger Bojan Bogdanovic, Cam Reddish, and Evan Fournier again leads to the logical conclusion that the Lakers have settled on retaining Postbrook. This is the verdict that Windhorst also came up with (from the same podcast):
I don’t think the Lakers now believe there’s a Westbrook trade they have, even with their picks, that lifts them up. So I think they’re going to try — the feeling within the league, now, and it could change in a week, but the feeling within the league, from the executives I’ve spoken to, now, are they going to try to do the best with what they have and hope the attitudes change in their favour.
Jovan Poha the athlete Also note in his last post That there is a greater than 50% chance that Westbrook is the Laker to start training camp. That does not preclude the possibility of the Lakers trading with Westbrook during the season. However, if the team gets to that point, it’s likely because the Lakers are struggling, which will further reduce their leverage in a potential deal. It’s hard to imagine the Lakers finding a deal that would keep them competitive during the regular season — with salary matching challenges, from a compromised position — if they couldn’t execute such a trade now.
So towards the end of the season, the Lakers’ checklist will be incomplete. No matter how hard it is to find a Westbrook deal, sooner or later the Lakers will realize that it must be done to make a competitive team. The hardest things are the things that are worth doing.