A key question going into next season is how Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham can utilize Russell Westbrook alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis.
The former MVP had a down year, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in his fewest minutes since the 2013-14 season. His struggles were the main story of the Lakers as fans booed the hometown kid in numerous games. Westbrook aired out dirty laundry in his exit interview too, saying he never felt he was given a fair chance to be himself.
All of that left Westbrook in a precarious position and unclear whether to opt into his $47 contract for a year to stay with the Lakers or not. That uncertainty has reportedly been settled, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“Russell Westbrook can opt into the final year of his contract at 47 million dollars. He’s expected to do that at the end of the month.”
The news is no surprise — who would say no to $47 million? More will be put on if Westbrook can turn the tide this upcoming season.
Westbrook signed a five-year $206 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017. At the time, it was the biggest guaranteed contract in NBA history. Now, taking on the contract is considered difficult due to Westbrook’s decline.
The lucrative contract makes it challenging to move him around to another team or spread it across the paybook for multiple years.
The Lakers have been unwilling to lose their 2027, and 2029 first-round picks in a deal surrounding Westbrook. Teams will surely command that draft pick to take on the seven-time All-Star, therefore, it is likely to see him back in the Purple and Gold at the start of training camp.
Head coach candidates asked about strategies to integrate Westbrook
After it was reported that Frank Vogel’s inability to make Westbrook productive became a fireable offense, the Lakers’ front office kept Westbrook at the top of their mind in interviews.
The topic of incorporating Westbrook more became a “significant subject” while looking for the new head coach. Ham seemingly had the best ideas, specifically mentioning he believes Westbrook can fit on the team.
Ham will be tasked with the difficult task of piecing together Westbrook with LeBron and AD.