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Why trading Russell Westbrook helps the Lakers even more than him opting out

Hoping for Russell Westbrook to forego $47 million is not only hilariously unrealistic, but impractical.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers-Press Conference Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After a season like the Lakers and especially Russell Westbrook had last year, it makes sense that everyone involved would want a nice, clean break from each other. Unfortunately in sports, though, those tricky little things like contracts can get in the way, and for now, the Lakers and Westbrook are stuck with each other.

This week in “The Lakers Lounge,” Harrison Faigen (who is back for some reason?) and I listed all the potential ways the Westbrook-Lakers relationship can move forward — whether that’s together or separately — and listed them in order of how appealing we find them.

What complicates things from the Lakers’ side of this equation is that merely moving on from Westbrook isn’t nearly enough. They still employ LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the expectations as that remains the case is to compete and, preferably, win championships. This becomes rather difficult to do when roughly a third of the salary cap is taken up by dead money.

As satisfying as it might be for people throughout the organization to just tell Westbrook to go away, the Lakers need to utilize his contract to hopefully bring in a few useful players and replenish the depth that has been stripped away from the championship roster we saw only two seasons ago.

Yes, this likely means taking on longer-term money for players who you’d probably consider overpaid, but as Westbrook is among the most distressed assets in the NBA right now, there simply isn’t a painless way out of this situation. Hell, as Staples is no longer the sponsor of the building they play in, the Lakers don’t even have access to that cool little EASY button, either.

Harrison and I ranked all the likely scenarios, laughed about Draymond Green’s podcasting, and once against said our farewells to each other.

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.

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