While Tuesday might have turned up the pressure on the Lakers ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, it doesn’t appear to have led to any definitive conclusions about Russell Westbrook’s future with the Lakers.
Separate reports from separate outlets on Wednesday paint a picture of uncertainty for the Lakers moving forward. On one hand, Dave McMenamin of ESPN appeared on Sportscenter and reported a team source telling him the team should “rip off the band-aid” and deal Westbrook.
Here’s the full report from McMenamin transcribed:
“Now my reporting last night was that they got to do something with the roster. I had a team source tell me today, specifically, what he would like to see done with the roster? Trade Russell Westbrook. He told me ‘We’ve got to rip the band-aid off to be able to move forward this season.’”
Nearly simultaneously as McMenamin was appearing on ESPN, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report was part of a piece in which he reported the opposite: That the Lakers still are hesitant right now to part with Westbrook, but that their stance could change with one influential person changing his mind.
The Los Angeles Lakers are unlikely to trade Russell Westbrook at the deadline, sources tell B/R. The caveat: If LeBron James decides that fellow Klutch Sports client John Wall could be a better fit and is willing to push extremely hard for Westbrook’s exit, the Lakers might consider a deal with the Houston Rockets.
Pincus also includes information that the Rockets would hope that the Lakers would take on Daniel Theis’ multiyear deal, which would both raise the Lakers luxury tax payments and stretch through the 2023-24 season, neither of which interests the Lakers, fair or foul.
The Lakers sending smoke signals in different directions is frustrating, but not entirely surprising considering how they got to their current situation. Despite all the signs pointing to this partnership being a difficult one at best, the Lakers pushed forward last summer in acquiring Westbrook for an unlikely pairing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Now, they’re paying the price with Westbrook’s postgame presser on Tuesday only serving to heighten the tension. Given the nature of Westbrook’s comments, it’s hard to imagine him ever playing for the Lakers under head coach Frank Vogel again, but it doesn’t seem the Lakers see the situation as entirely untenable like others do.
Instead, the Lakers don’t want to admit they got it wrong with Westbrook, which Pincus reported as well, and don’t want to include a pick to undo their mistake.
The result is an organization that is facing a crossroads moment. Both for this season, and for the future, and is balking with the deadline fast approaching.
To keep up with all the latest reports before the deadline, check out our 2022 Lakers trade rumors tracker. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.