With the Los Angeles Lakers officially eliminated from playoff contention, all eyes immediately are set on the offseason where it looks like major shakeups are in store.
The biggest issue looming over the franchise is what to do with Russell Westbrook. The Lakers went all-in on acquiring Westbrook from the Washington Wizards last summer, hoping he could be the third star to help elevate the organization back into a title contender. That experiment obviously did not work, and now they find themselves stuck with limited options on moving on from the guard.
Los Angeles reportedly scoured the league at the trade deadline for a suitor to take on his gargantuan contract, but to no avail. However, because Westbrook will be entering the last year of his deal, it seems the Lakers could opt to waive and stretch the final year of his deal, via NBA insider Marc Stein:
The Lakers, league sources say, have not ruled out simply parting ways with Westbrook via the waive-and-stretch provision.
Waiving and stretching Westbrook might not be optimal from a salary cap perspective, but it could be the only way for them to get out of his deal while also being able to retain Malik Monk:
“A straight release of Westbrook that essentially transforms his mammoth player option for next season into what lives on their books as a three-year deal in the $15 million range annually would move the Lakers out of luxury-tax territory and make it far easier for them to retain free agent-to-be Malik Monk, who at times has unexpectedly appeared to be the Lakers’ most dependable player not named LeBron James throughout a nightmarish 31-48 campaign
Monk has already expressed interest in returning to Los Angeles, but as things currently stand, the team would have little to offer him. This route would give them the capital to offer Monk a market-value deal, though the Lakers might try to offload Westbrook somewhere else by leveraging the first-round picks they will have available.
Either way, it seems the two sides are destined to part ways, which would be the best move for both parties. It was unfortunate to see Westbrook’s stint back home end this way, but at least he can flourish elsewhere.
Charlotte Hornets could emerge as trade destination for Russell Westbrook
One team that was mentioned as a potential landing spot for Westbrook was the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets will need to make decisions on extensions for Miles Bridges and potentially P.J. Washington, so they could look to offload salary by sending players like Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Lakers.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!