The Lakers are likely to continue to explore a trade centered on Russell Westbrook this offseason. But they’re not gonna force it.
Westbrook is, of course, coming off a fairly uneven season, his first in LA. And the Lakers failed to qualify for the postseason. That was hardly all Westbrook’s fault — but there is a sense around the franchise that he will never be a good fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That remains the suspicion even with a new coach in Darvin Ham.
But clearly, the Lakers aren’t willing to unload Westbrook at any cost. They will again try to make it work if they must.
“I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career,” Ham told reporters. “A lot of that now may have him without the ball in his hand. Most of it now may have it on the defensive end.
“But again, we have to sacrifice. There’s no achieving anything without all parties sharing the load, sacrificing, instead of one-on-one.”
Ham was actually fairly fervent in his support of Westbrook.
“Don’t get it messed up. Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen,” he said. “There’s still a ton left in that tank.”
Per Spotrac, Westbrook has a base salary of $47,063,478 in 2022-23, “while carrying a cap hit of $47,063,478 and a dead cap value of $47,063,478.”
He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 appearances this past season, shooting 44 percent from the field. For all the criticism, his field-goal percentage was actually better last season than it was before.