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Would the Lakers actually start next season with Russell Westbrook?

The team’s public posturing about keeping their embattled point guard is becoming a little unsettling.

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

As the offseason gets into full swing, there have been more and more rumors that the Lakers will be willing to keep Russell Westbrook on the 2022-23 roster if the price to unload his contract is too high. The latest such report came from Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, who wrote, “in the absence of a deal that makes them demonstrably better, the Lakers may keep Westbrook.”

On the latest episode of “I Love Basketball”, your hosts Raj Chipalu and Sabreena Merchant attempted to determine if the Lakers have actually had a change of heart on Westbrook — and to be clear, his first season in purple and gold was an abject disaster — or if this is merely public posturing to help the Lakers in an eventual trade.

They discussed why having Westbrook for another year would simply be untenable if the Lakers actually have designs on competing for another championship and how many assets the team should realistically be willing to part with to send Westbrook away. This led into a discussion about how the Lakers have valued first-round picks in recent years.

On a more positive note, this is the first time Raj and Sabreena have spoken since the Lakers reportedly agreed to terms with Darvin Ham as the team’s new head coach. They share some optimism about the hiring process and what Ham brings to the table while also trying to figure out why the Lakers haven’t yet made the signing official.

You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.