Lakers coach Darvin Ham and point guard Russell Westbrook are exploring the idea of Westbrook coming off the bench and “quarterbacking” the second unit this season, per Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
Westbrook, 33, has been the subject of multiple trade rumors since the middle of last season, but LA has been unable to find a taker in a deal. They reportedly had spoken to the Nets, Spurs, Jazz and most recently the Pacers about a Westbrook trade — to no avail.
The Lakers finished 33-49 last season and failed to qualify for even the play-in tournament. While that was hardly all Westbrook’s fault, he did prove to be a clunky fit next to forwards and fellow big names Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Given that the Lakers added Patrick Beverley in a trade with the Jazz, and signed Dennis Schroder in free agency, they have options to replace Westbrook in the starting lineup. They will try bringing Westbrook off the bench in Friday’s preseason finale vs. the Kings, Wojnarowski and McMenamin reported.
As of earlier this month, the Lakers were still attempting to trade Westbrook, and the possibility remained “real,” as we relayed right here.
Per multiple reports, the Lakers have refused to give up both of their next two trade-eligible picks (2027 and ’29) in order to move Westbrook. It does appear, however, that they are willing to move one.
Westbrook is in the final year of his contract, increasing the odds that he is moved closer to the trade deadline in February.
Last season, he averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 games.
The Lakers open the season Tuesday with a visit to the defending champion Warriors. Ham replaced Frank Vogel, who was dismissed after the season.
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