Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the NBA. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Los Angeles Lakers fans and fans across the country.
So much went wrong for the Lakers last season, but at the center of many of those issues was Russell Westbrook. The debate as to whether the Lakers should have traded for him, though, has long come and gone. At best, his acquisition was a net negative for the Lakers, and a risk that did not pay off.
The focus heading into this offseason, then, has been offloading Westbrook and ridding the franchise of its mistake. But in their search to do so, the Lakers seem to be talking out both sides of their mouth, shopping him on the trade market while discussing what his role could be next season.
The team appears to be straddling the fence when it comes to Westbrook’s retention by openly seeking a trade, but refraining from a willingness to send out draft assets in order to facilitate his departure. In our latest Reacts survey, we ask if the Lakers should include draft picks to shed Russ’ contract in a trade this offseason.
The fact is that Russ is a negative on-court asset — though if you’re feeling oddly daring, his current MVP odds at DraftKings are +30000 — and all of his trade value comes from being a massive expiring contract. But the Lakers aren’t simply looking to offload Russ’ contract, they’re looking to bring in rotation players as well.
Those types of deals would likely be on the table if the Lakers would include draft picks. Title windows are very short and the Lakers could still have one with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster, but not as long as Westbrook accompanies them. The Lakers can open the window for potentially one more season with the right moves this summer, if they’re willing to make that sacrifice.
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