The biggest ongoing roster question surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason involves the future of point guard Russell Westbrook. Ever since the Lakers’ season ended, it seemed as if it was a foregone conclusion that the team would part ways with Westbrook one way or another.
But recent reports have called that into question as the Lakers apparently have been asking potential coaches in interviews how they would utilize Westbrook within their system. This led to many wondering if the Lakers planned on keeping Westbrook around and Phil Jackson’s reported favorable view of Westbrook only furthered that belief.
But it sounds as if the Lakers would still prefer to rid themselves of Westbrook this offseason. In NBA insider Marc Stein’s last Substack, he says that while the Lakers won’t rule out the idea of Westbrook staying with the team, the preference is still to move on from him in some form or fashion:
One Russell Westbrook trade note: While the Lakers have indeed asked coaches they’ve interviewed in recent weeks how they would manage a roster that still features Westbrook, that’s not to say L.A. has already decided to bring the former All-Star guard back for the final season remaining (at a tidy $47 million) on his current contract. The Lakers won’t rule that out, because they would naturally prefer to avoid trades that require them to inject a future first-round pick to push the deal through, but they also know that the fresh-start atmosphere they hope to create when training camp begins in September will be extremely difficult to foster if Westbrook is still on the roster. I, for one, still struggle to imagine a scenario where Westbrook starts next season as a Laker — even if that means releasing him or trying to hash out some sort of buyout.
That fresh start is extremely important for a Lakers team looking to return to its former glory from just a couple of seasons ago. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have proven they can lead this team to a championship, but the Westbrook piece just didn’t fit the way anyone hoped.
The difficult part for the Lakers is finding a trade that will allow them to deal Westbrook without having to give up one of those future picks they greatly desire. The team is still giving away picks from the Davis trade and losing another just to get rid of Westbrook is not ideal.
This offseason will be one of the most important in recent Lakers history and making the right decisions on a number of issues will shape how the franchise looks in the years to come.
Phil Jackson’s view of Russell Westbrook could influence Lakers front office
If there is one voice within the Lakers’ inner circle who wants Westbrook to remain around, it is apparently former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. There is reportedly belief that Frank Vogel didn’t put Westbrook in the best position to succeed and Jackson even compared it to his own situation in 2004 when Gary Payton joined the franchise.
It is believed that Jackson’s view of Westbrook is relevant within the front office. But whether or not that will lead to Westbrook remaining in purple and gold next season remains to be seen.
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