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Could the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook be heading to the Charlotte Hornets?

With things having not worked out between the veteran guard and the franchise, the question now becomes where will he play next?

Paul Rudder
Could the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook be heading to the Charlotte Hornets?
Mark J. RebilasUSA TODAY Sports

With the Lakers now well and truly out of the playoff picture and the season almost over, attention has now turned to what will be done with the roster and most specifically, Russell Westbrook.

Is Russell Westbrook a Charlotte Hornets target?

If the Los Angeles Lakers do in fact move Russell Westbrook on as the large majority of fans expect them to do, it would appear there is now one clear front runner looking to acquire the services of the veteran point guard. Indeed, according to a report from NBA correspondent Marc Stein, the Charlotte Hornets are quite likely the next team that Westbrook could play for.

Could the Lakers’ Russell Westbrook be heading to the Charlotte Hornets?

Though of course some will point out that Charlotte’s interest in Westbrook will be largely financially motivated, as Stein points out it would indeed create greater salary cap space following the 2022-23 season. To add further context Westbrook has a player option for next season worth some $47 million and he is widely expected to exercise it. At that point, the Lakers’ guard would become an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

Russell Westbrook, the Charlotte Hornets and cap space

As anyone in Charlotte well knows at the moment, All-Star guard LaMelo Ball is the outright star and face of the franchise. On the other hand, as mentioned before there is a genuine belief that the Hornets could come out with greater wiggle room where their cap is concerned, were they able to acquire Westbrook. Consider that Gordon Hayward has two seasons left on a four-year, $120 million contract and has appeared in only 49 of Charlotte’s 79 games this season. Then there is Terry Rozier who admittedly did well over this last season, but will be entering the first year of a four-year, $97 million extension come next season.

All of this of course comes while the Hornets face up to the sizable expense of signing Miles Bridges to a lucrative contract extension this off season, which will most certainly be followed the massive extension that will surely be offered to Ball. If there is one thing that is certain among the varying possibilities, its that any team that wants Westbrook will have to shell out somewhere in the realm of $38 million in salary. It should also be mentioned that Hornets owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan has long favored Westbrook, but whether that equals an actual move for the point guard by the franchise is a completely different story.

Would Russell Westbrook be a good fit for the Hornets?

Having just come to the end of probably the worst season of his entire career, one could be forgiven for questioning why anyone would be jumping at the chance to sign Westbrook. Indeed, there probably aren’t many teams that are, but perhaps that could actually work in Charlotte’s favor. With suitors hard to come by, the Lakers will likely have no other choice than to listen to any offers put on the table. Alas, what was meant to be a super team with Westbrook being placed alongside the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis never quite materialized.

The question now remains, however, does it make sense for the Hornets to acquire Westbrook, even more so when looking at the young star they have in LaMelo Ball. Indeed, Ball is competent in the one area that Westbrook showed he’s not and that’s playing off of the ball. On the other hand, with all of the above mentioned factors in play, its quite likely that if Charlotte did add Westbrook, it would more than likely be for a single season. Either way, watch this space as we could well see Russell Westbrook in the Hornets lineup come next season.