Could the Lakers stick with point guard Russell Westbrook all season?
It sounds crazy, given all the trade rumors that have been surrounding Westbrook for the past six months. But apparently, per HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, some rival executives believe that’s how it could play out — that the Lakers could end up keeping Westbrook.
The reason? Because Westbrook finally is starting to look like a fit, in his new bench role, instituted by coach Darvin Ham early in the season.
Granted, it’s still early, and perhaps that is just what opposing executives think. Perhaps the Lakers’ desire to move Westbrook hasn’t changed. After all, they are just 5-10 entering Tuesday night. And if a Westbrook trade could move the needle … well, then you can be sure the Lakers GM Rob Pelinka would make it.
As Scotto reported, they actually attempted to trade Westbrook and a lottery-protected first-rounder to the Spurs for guard Josh Richardson and forward Doug McDermott before the season. (The Spurs wanted the pick to not be protected, thwarting the deal.)
Westbrook, 34, is in the final year of a large contract. And anyone on an expiring contract stands a chance to be traded. Many around the league have told Hoops Wire that Westbrook’s improved play only makes him a better trade candidate — and that perhaps it would result in the Lakers getting something decent in return.
But Westbrook’s recent performances also make it seem as if there are worse things to do than just keep him.
- Shooting guard Austin Reaves has moved into the starting lineup, and had made a compelling case to remain there, per Kyle Goon of the LA Daily News. “He’s been one of our best playmakers and he just loves to hoop,’ Ham told reporters. “You can see his passion shine through whenever he’s out there.”
- The Lakers could have received a first-round pick from the Raptors for former forward Talen Horton-Tucker, but opted for guard Patrick Beverley in a trade with the Jazz instead, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Beverley has been a decent addition, but there’s little doubt the Lakers could also use more first-rounders.
- LeBron James (adductor) is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s road game against the Suns, while Anthony Davis (back tightness) is probable. James has missed the past four games.