The Lakers have made it abundantly clear in recent weeks that they are heavily deliberating keeping Russell Westbrook on the roster moving into the 2022-23 season. Whether or not you believe the Lakers depends on how much benefit of the doubt you’re willing to give the front office, one that hasn’t earned much of it in the last year.
Regardless of the Lakers posturing or leaks, there is a decent chance that Westbrook is on the roster next season simply due to how difficult it will be to move his enormous $47 million contract. While there are ways and teams that it could make sense with, the logistics of it will be difficult.
Even still, according to the latest report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN during SportsCenter on Friday, the Lakers are still going to explore every possibility to trade Westbrook.
Woj saying the Lakers will certainly try to find avenues to trade Russell Westbrook but could also be stuck with him next season.. pic.twitter.com/wIP0FH7sdc— (@laughsNball) May 28, 2022
As I wrote about on Friday, the fact we’re to a point where we don’t know what the Lakers’ intentions are is great for negotiating, at least. If other teams genuinely believe the Lakers may hang onto Westbrook and not offer them the financial freedom they desire, then perhaps they’re willing to lower their asking price and not include any or as many assets from the Lakers along with Westbrook.
If the Lakers are earnestly considering bringing him back, then it raises a lot of questions. It immediately makes Ham’s first year significantly harder and puts a great, great impetus on proper team-building and surrounding the Big 3 with the right players. The Lakers front office certainly did not show an ability to do that last season.
Which means the Lakers are still walking a very fine line. If they pull it off, it’s a great bit of negotiating. If they don’t, it’s one of the more confusing decisions the front office has made yet.