Report: Westbrook picks up player option to return to Lakers

Russell Westbrook

Former Wizard Russell Westbrook appears to be staying in Los Angeles.

Westbrook is exercising his $47.1 million player option to return to the Lakers for the 2022-23 season, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. In doing so, Westbrook will be the second-highest paid player in the NBA next season behind only Steph Curry.

Despite Westbrook opting in, the Lakers still have the ability to trade him before the start of next season. However, his $47.1 million salary figure won't be easy to move regardless of the fact that it'd be an expiring contract.

Westbrook, 33, arrived in L.A. prior to last season via a multi-team deal that saw the Wizards receive Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell from the Lakers and Spencer Dinwiddie from the Brooklyn Nets. The latter two have since found new homes, but Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope remain vital members of the Wizards’ rotation.

In his first year as a Laker, Westbrook wasn’t able to lead the star-studded west coast cast to the same success he did in Washington, where he helped lead the Wizards to the playoffs. Los Angeles went 33-49 on the season, finishing 11th in the West and missing out on the play-in tournament. It was a disappointing result for a team that included Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

However, the Lakers look primed to retain their big three and push for a postseason appearance this upcoming season. They were rumored to be in the sweepstakes for fellow star point guard Kyrie Irving, but the Brooklyn Net opted into his player option to remain with his former club, much like Westbrook did.