After being one win away from reaching the NBA Finals, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder would soon have their hearts crushed not once, but twice. Kevin Durant’s decision to ultimately leave the Thunder to join forces with Stephen Curry and this new and improved ‘Super Team’ down in Oakland has left the Oklahoma City front office with one consensus: Extend Westbrook’s contract to a long-term deal or trade him before next summer’s free agency where they could potentially lose him for nothing.
Throughout this rebuilding process for the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook’s name has constantly been thrown in the mix to get the California native to play for the storied franchise. With Durant gone, the potential of a blockbuster trade going down seem more realistic now than ever before with so many uncertainties involving Westbrook’s future.
However, according to ESPN’s Royce Young Westbrook would prefer to remain with the Thunder next season and doesn’t want to be traded:
“According to sources with knowledge of the situation, he (Westbrook) doesn’t want to be traded. He wants to play next season with the Thunder.”
This isn’t the first time a star player with an impending free agency has been reported saying that they don’t want to be traded or have plans on leaving the team. However, in today’s league especially, we’ve seen players drastically change their minds about taking their talents elsewhere like never before.
If Westbrook were to become available in a deal, the Lakers and any other team would then have to decide how much to give up for a player who could leave this summer. For the Lakers, most have assumed that any deal would have to start with D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, but the Lakers would likely need assurances that Westbrook would re-sign before considering breaking up their young core.
Just a few weeks ago it was rumored that the Lakers think they can sign Westbrook in free agency next summer without losing any of their young assets in a trade, but with their struggles to get a top-tier player in recent years, a trade may be the best way to get a star in LA.