With less than two months to go before the new NBA season tip offs, the Lakers have yet to end their marriage with Russell Westbrook. Despite their best efforts in trying to move the nine-time All-Star this summer, Los Angeles hasn’t yet been able to swing a deal without needing to include both of their available future first round draft picks.
However, considering that they remain intent on acquiring Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (who LeBron James is reportedly eagerly vouching for), it makes sense that L.A. continues to wait out the Nets’ handling of their Kevin Durant situation. So, the Lakers will continue on towards September’s preseason with the roster as is unless they are able to find a deal they consider to be a home run, especially if potential trade partners require the last of their movable assets.
Which is why, according to The Athletic’s Lakers beat writer Jovan Buha, there’s a good chance that Westbrook will be wearing purple and gold by opening night if Irving or any ideal trade package doesn’t become available. In his latest mailbag piece, Buha also reiterated that Los Angeles will only surrender their last two trade-able draft picks in this decade if it means dramatically increasing their championship odds.
I think it’s in the Lakers’ best interest to resolve the [Westbrook] situation ahead of training camp when the matter could become a considerable distraction. The Lakers need a palate cleanse heading into next season. The Lakers have already begun exploring other options. They’ve spoken with multiple teams beyond Brooklyn and even Indiana. The rub is that they’re not interested in giving up picks — definitely not two — if it’s not going to dramatically improve the roster. Therefore, unless a hypothetical trade checks that box, the Lakers will likely hold onto Westbrook and seek alternative solutions to their problem.
Unfortunately for fans of the team, but not necessarily its point guard, our darkest fears of the Lakers running it back with Westbrook might just turn into reality. Rob Pelinka and co. will continue to wait for the drama in Brooklyn to resolve, unless of course, a Godfather trade package for Westbrook emerges, sweeping the Lakers off of their feet and inspiring them to make a move.
The Lakers have no one to blame but themselves for being in this situation because after all, they were the ones who chose to trade their rotational depth for Westbrook in the first place. Now, they’re facing the consequences, potentially set to enter another season with arguably the most inefficient volume shooter in the league because no competitive team is interested in acquiring the Lakers’ current point guard in exchange for real NBA talent — that is, without the sweetener of some serious draft equity.
One can only hope that Los Angeles remains steadfast in trading Westbrook as soon as the right price emerges.
Whether that happens before training camp or during the season remains the biggest question mark for the Lakers moving forward.