By the time the Los Angeles Lakers’ season ended, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the franchise would find a way to part ways with point guard Russell Westbrook. Though nothing could be for certain, all signs seemed to point towards Westbrook being elsewhere next season.
While that still may be the case, it no longer seems to be the certainty that it was not too long ago. There have been rumors of some within the Lakers circle preferring to keep Westbrook around and at the very least, it sounds as if the Lakers are letting whoever their next coach will be know that they need to have a plan in place to get the best out of Westbrook.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers have been asking coaching candidates in interviews how they would utilize Westbrook in their system:
More specifically, the notion of Russell Westbrook remaining part of their program is seeming more real all the time. Despite the widely held belief that the Lakers would find a way to trade Westbrook before the start of next season, sources say their coaching candidates have been asked to discuss how they would use him in their system during interviews. The takeaway for candidates, it seems, is that maximizing Westbrook’s presence after his disastrous 2021-22 season is considered an important part of this job.
It seems as if the Lakers are viewing Westbrook’s struggles last season more on Frank Vogel’s inability to integrate him properly, as opposed to Westbrook’s own shortcomings. While there is undoubtedly something to be said about Vogel’s offensive system not being up to par, many of Westbrook’s issues had nothing to do with coaching.
This latest rumor doesn’t mean that the Lakers won’t still shop Westbrook this offseason as Rob Pelinka has said that the franchise will explore all options to improve the team. But perhaps they have already found that the market for Westbrook is minimal and thus are prepared to keep him around as opposed to attaching assets in a deal just to get rid of him.
In the end, there are a number of different possibilities for how this Lakers offseason will turn out, making them one of the most important teams to watch this summer.
Buss says it’s premature to discuss Westbrook’s Lakers future
Westbrook’s future with the team has been one of the biggest topics of discussion for the Lakers, but owner Jeanie Buss will not be part of that as she believes there are other factors that must be addressed first.
Buss called a conversation on Westbrook’s future ‘premature’ as the franchise must first decide on a new coach before going into any roster discussions. Once the Lakers have found the right guy to lead the team, everything else will begin to fall into place.
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