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Russell Westbrook was the 11th highest-paid athlete on the entire planet this year

The Lakers’ starting point guard made a total of $79.2 million dollars in 2022, which will skyrocket even more if he decides to opt into his player option next season.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Athletes today earn more income than ever. And it’s not just salary where they draw their wealth from, as the world’s top 50 highest-paid athletes collected a total of $2.97 billion in 2022 thanks to their partnership with global brands and their business ventures off the court.

Ironically, many of these superstars are making more in revenue off the court rather than on the field. But that’s not to say their salaries from their actual jobs are worth any less, because after all, their performance on their respective courts or fields is largely the reason why they made enough off the field to make the 2022 edition of Forbes’ annual list of Top 50 highest-paid athletes in the world.

According to Forbes, the record-breaking $2.97 billion (before taxes and agent fees) these 50 athletes are collecting overall in 2022 is $200 million greater than last year’s list. And you know who’s included in this prestigious group? None other than Lakers guard Russell Westbrook — and oh, that LeBron James guy too, but that’s a different story for another day.

The $44.2 million contract Westbrook was on with the Lakers this season is a gigantic reason why he’s the world’s 11th highest-paid athlete on the planet, and why he only narrowly landed behind Giannis Antetokounmpo ($80.9 million) and outside the top 10. But he wasn’t far behind, as the Lakers’ starting point guard made a total of $79.2 million dollars this year (including his off-court income) which will skyrocket even higher in 2023 if he decides to opt into his player option for next season.

However, Westbrook has said he hasn’t decided whether or not he’s picking up his $47 million player option for next season. And remember, he can’t be traded unless he makes a decision. Still, while we all know he didn’t have the time of his life (at least on the court) in Los Angeles this year, there’s a good chance he opts in his contract, because who would throw away $47 million, right?

So unless any significant trade happens, Westbrook is poised to make the most money of any Laker next season, assuming he opts in. That choice would also make him one of the NBA’s top-five highest-paid players, alongside Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, John Wall and James Harden (the latter two would have to opt into their contracts for next season as well for this to apply).

So hate or love him, Westbrook has the potential to climb up Forbes’ annual top 50 highest-paid athletes list next year. Whether or not he makes the highest income of his life on the Lakers next season though, remains the biggest question mark this offseason.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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