LA Lakers may be having second thoughts after buying Russell Westbrook. He has not been in the same league as LeBron James with the latter inconsistent for prolonged stretches as his health remains a big concern.
But he has gradually improved his play and though the Lakers have internally deliberated trading in Russell Westbrook, that doesn’t make any deal likely.
Russell Westbrook has been an uncertain fit, right after he was picked up by the LA Lakers before the NBA Draft, 2021. The apprehensions have been partially justified with an inadequate 15-13 start.
In a parallel development, the Lakers also have evinced keen interest in 76ers’ Ben Simmons. Russell Westbrook is being considered part of the transaction for financial reasons.
Russell Westbrook is due $91M this season plus the next. There aren’t many players in the league matching that salary who might be considered for a trade-off.
Players drawing such salaries are in a league of their own and their teams wouldn’t consider swapping them for Russell Westbrook. At 33, he is no longer his old self and is seemingly on the decline.
Lakers Have Not Utilized Russell Westbrook To His Strengths
Both Davis and James wanted Westbrook in and would not want him to be traded despite the conflicting opinions of the team management. That makes a swap deal for Russell Westbrook all the more unlikely.
Westbrook has an uneven season and has been part of the reason for the lackluster performance of the Lakers. He has been inadequate in his defensive role, especially in a team as defensive-oriented as the LA Lakers. He hasn’t been as successful as a ball screener for LeBron and hasn’t had much accomplishment as a cutter.
To be fair to Westbrook, he had his share of ups and downs all through his career and the Lakers knew what they had coming. Expecting him to magically change once in his 30s was being unfair to the player. It raises the issue of searching for a scapegoat by the team management.
Despite being aware of Westbrook’s defensive vulnerabilities, they did not play Alex Caruso. Despite the high-usage style favored by Westbrook, they used extra ball-handling guards. The Lakers might claim that Westbrook hasn’t been much of a success, but it is apparent that the team has failed Russell Westbrook more.