With how the 2021-22 season ended up for the Los Angeles Lakers, it seems like a foregone conclusion they will be moving on from Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook’s first year with his hometown team went about as poorly as one could have imagined as he struggled in a lesser role. Anthony Davis believes it was tough for Westbrook to adjust his game, but it still serves as no excuse for the team missing the playoffs.
Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka should know he has to deal Westbrook in order to improve the roster but remained non-committal on whether or not the guard will be returning to Los Angeles.
“Russ is a Hall of Fame player that gave everything he could to this organization this year. He battled every game and we’re so appreciative of that. In terms of Russell Westbrook and his future, part of that is in his control. First things first, he has a player option that I’m sure he’ll sit down with his agent and have discussions around that, and like any player, we’ll partner with him after that decision is made about what’s best for his future.
“Again, rest assured, we’re gonna look under every stone for ways to be better and be open to anything that will improve our team and put us in position to compete at a higher level next year than we did this year. I’ll just say, that statement is not about any specific player on our roster, it’s a general statement. I don’t think it’s fair today to take any player on our roster and discuss his future, whether he’ll be in a trade or won’t be in a trade, I don’t think that’s fair. But in general, the statement I made, I stand behind.”
Westbrook is widely expected to pick up the player option on his deal as it will pay him $47 million. With that assumption, the Lakers have a few different avenues on moving on from him but the most likely scenario is they try to offload him in a trade.
The Westbrook domino may very well make or break the Lakers’ 2022-23 season and it will be interesting to see what direction Pelinka goes in in the following months.
Russell Westbrook on Lakers’ future
While L.A. may be hamstrung in its trade options for Westbrook, the veteran will be cashing out either way. As far as his future with the Purple and Gold is concerned, Westbrook did not offer much insight.
“I’ll make a decision. That’s why it’s called player option,” Westbrook said.
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