It was no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers, far less than a calendar year since initially trading a haul of assets for him, offered Russell Westbrook to teams at the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline in an effort to remove him from the team to hopefully improve and make a postseason run. They did not succeed in those efforts, mostly due to the fact that it would have required a first-round pick to do so in at least one reported deal with the Houston Rockets that had that equally overpaid John Wall coming to the Lakers.
Following that deadline, rumors that the team would be looking to move off Westbrook again this summer have grown strong. It seems as if Rob Pelinka and the front office want to get rid of him in any way possible, and they’ll definitely have to do so as there’s no doubt he will be picking up his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season. Reason would lead you to believe the Lakers may have an easier time trying to trade him this summer given the fact that he’d be an expiring contract, with teams much more likely to do that instead of 1.5 seasons of paying him.
However, in Jake Fischer’s report today for Bleacher Report (that mostly centered around the probable Frank Vogel firing and who could replace him), Fischer indicated that the Lakers still may not have much other options aside from the Rockets as trade partners for Westbrook’s services.
“Yet the options to move Westbrook still appear limited outside of a Rockets framework that would deliver John Wall to Los Angeles. The possibility of that swap still seems predicated on the Lakers’ willingness to send Houston a future first-round pick. Once the 2022-23 NBA calendar begins in July, Los Angeles will have access to trade its first-rounders in both 2027 and 2029.”
Unless a team that also has bloated, long-term salaried contracts that they may want to dump in return for Westbrook’s bloated, extremely short-term contract… it’s starting to seem like John Wall will in fact be coming to the Lakers next season. Things could definitely change in the coming months, but either way, it’s sounding more and more likely that the Lakers will have to burn a second first-round pick for the Westbrook failure after already trading one for him in the initial trade with the Washington Wizards.