While the Lakers have pumped the brakes on potential Russell Westbrook trades, it appears that it won’t be long before they start revving that engine again.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers will start exploring the market for Westbrook takers again, and possibly soon. They paused those conversations at the start of training camp, per Wojnarowski, perhaps to see if Westbrook could be a better fit alongside star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham is already exploring the idea of bringing Westbrook off the bench this season — a concept with which Westbrook is supposedly aligned.
“He’s been a pro. He totally understood. He said ‘Yeah coach, whatever you need me to do,'” Ham told reporters, via Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. “For him to trust us and what we’re trying to take some notes on — him being in that part of the rotation — my hat’s off to him.”
Ham added that Westbrook’s move to the bench “is not a demotion, it’s a realignment.”
That said, many across the league seem to believe that if Westbrook worked well with James and Davis, he’d be starting.
“The Lakers didn’t (trade for) him to bring him off the bench,” one rival scout told Hoops Wire.
So now, it seems, they will begin exploring trades again.
The Lakers reportedly already discussed Westbrook trades with the likes of the Pacers, Nets, Jazz and even Knicks — but have been unwilling to part with both of their next two trade-eligible picks (2027 and ’29) to move his expiring contract. They are said to be willing to include one of those picks in a Westbrook trade, however.
Either way, the scout who spoke to Hoops Wire predicted Westbrook will be traded by December, or “January at the latest.”
The Lakers landed Patrick Beverley in a trade with the Jazz and brought back Dennis Schroder in free agency to help shore up the backcourt. Those moves made it seem they do, in fact, fully intend to move on from Westbrook.
“The Lakers at some point here will start engaging teams again on possible Russell Westbrook trades. They paused it at the start of training camp.”@wojespn on the Lakers’ plans 👀
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 14, 2022