The Los Angeles Lakers’ undefeated showing in Las Vegas has quieted the calls for the team to rush their rebuild by making a big move, but it hasn’t entirely drowned them out.
Ever since Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors, there have been those predicting and/or hoping the Lakers will attempt to nab Los Angeles native Russell Westbrook, either in a trade or free agency. If the latest report from Chris Broussard of ESPN is to be believed, the Lakers would prefer to wait and try the latter method, rather than gut their young core for a player who could leave in a year.
"The Lakers think they can sign (Westbrook)," said Broussard (as transcribed by Timothy Rapp of Bleacher Report). "I was talking to some people, some executives yesterday about possible trades they might do, or offer, and I was told they think they can sign him as a free agent. So, why should they give up anything?"
If this is indeed the Lakers thinking, it does make some sense. Despite the team’s free agency woes the last several seasons, if veterans like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov can help D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Brandon Ingram attain some success next year, the allure of Los Angeles combined with promising young talent could be enough to get a marquee free agent like Westbrook to hop aboard.
Should the team trade for Westbrook (if he’s even available, which doesn’t seem to be the case yet), the only real advantage would be the ability to offer him a fifth year on his contract. But unless Westbrook is desperate for that fifth year and to live in Los Angeles, why would an in-his-prime superstar want to stay on a Lakers team devoid of talent outside of himself?
He most likely wouldn’t, so the Lakers showing patience and biding their time until they can just pitch Westbrook in free agency would seem like the most logical course of action.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.