Well, here we are. With 21 games left in the regular season, it is safe to say the Russell Westbrook experiment has failed. It’s quite surprising that some people actually still believe the Lakers have a chance at being a playoff contender. Will they even make the playoffs? For some, they have known since the Lakers made the trade that this was not going to work. Others who hoped it would work, are now faced with the sad reality that this season is headed towards imminent failure.
Going into the trade deadline this season, most believed the Lakers would trade Westbrook, but his contract is so difficult to move. The Lakers needed to attach a first-round pick and they were unwilling to do so. This summer brings new opportunity for the Lakers as Westbrook’s contract will be an expiring one and they will have more draft pick flexibility. More importantly, both parties might be motivated to move on to the next phase of their lives. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Lakers and Westbrook are interested in finding a new place for the former Most Valuable Player.
In any case, there is mutual interest in finding Westbrook a new home this summer, sources said.
The Lakers’ trade deadline discussions with the Houston Rockets for a potential Russell Westbrook-John Wall swap didn’t generate significant traction, sources said, as the Lakers were resistant to including their 2027 first-round pick in any deal to offload Westbrook’s salary. League observers have pointed to this offseason as a greater opportunity for the Lakers to shed Westbrook’s contract, when they will be eligible to move their 2029 first-round pick.
Having the 2029 first-round pick will either allow the Lakers to be aggressive this upcoming off-season, or they will have it in their back pocket to use during the regular season next year. The 2022-23 season is currently the last season the Lakers have LeBron James under contract, so they are highly motivated to put a contender on the floor with one of the best players to ever play this game.
The Lakers could extend him but he seems highly motivated to play with his son, who will be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft. So the Lakers could extend him for one more year before LeBron sets his sights on playing with his son.
For Westbrook, a change of scenery will surely be a breath of fresh air. The UCLA Bruin has accomplished everything individually, but that elusive NBA title still remains at large. Westbrook might want to consider changing his approach as he enters the latter part of his career. He is no longer the player he once was, father time remains undefeated.
As painful as it was to see the Lakers not make a move in the trade deadline, the Summer brings better opportunities. The LeBron James window keeps closing with every passing day for the Lakers, so let’s hope they are able to revilitize this roster. Also it wouldn’t hurt for LeBron and Anthony Davis to stay healthy.