Report: Russell Westbrook did not ask for a trade but remains open to one
There comes a point in the quiet part of every NBA offseason where we inevitably end up thinking, “are we still talking about this?”
Enter the Lakers looking for a Russell Westbrook trade.
The topic came up again on ESPN’s The Lowe Post podcast this week, where Zach Lowe was talking to Ramona Shelburne and she confirmed reporting that goes back to the end of last season (or beyond) but has become a topic again: It’s not just the Lakers trying to trade Westbrook, he would be open to a trade out of Los Angeles as well.
As Lowe said on the podcast, the franchise that wants to trade for Westbrook and turn the offensive over to him like it’s 2017 doesn’t exist. To other teams, Westbrook is a massive expiring contract and they are trading for him to get the sweeteners — meaning draft picks — not the player. Those teams plan to waive Westbrook.
Of course, the other thing holding up a Westbrook trade to anywhere is the Lakers are not eager to give up the only two first-round picks they control this decade (2027 and 2029) and do not want to take on salary past this season (they could have around $30 million in cap space next summer to bolster the roster). With those restrictions, it will be next to impossible to trade Westbrook. As we have seen.
This brings us back to what Westbrook’s former agent Thad Foucher said after he and Westbrook parted ways this summer — Westbrook’s “best option is to stay with the Lakers, embrace the starting role and support that Darvin Ham publicly offered.” Put bluntly, Westbrook needs to rebuild his value. Yes for a potential trade, but more importantly for his next contract next summer, wherever it might be. Westbrook can still play, he can still help a team, but it’s in a different role now. Maybe as a sixth man, but would he be willing to accept that role?
Lakers coach Darvin Ham has a role in mind for Westbrook this season. Whether he is willing to play it or would rather follow Shaq’s advice will be one of the big things to watch this season in Los Angeles.