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NBA

How did the Lakers and Russell Westbrook manage to make up?

Following a season to forget there was much talk of the point guard leaving, but with him now opting to stay can the Lakers get the best out of him?

Update:
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Russell Westbrook is seen outside Amiri during Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2023 on June 23, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images)
Christian VierigGetty

Over the last few weeks there was intense speculation as to what would happen between the point guard and his team. Would they trade him or would he stay? Now that he’s picked up his option it would seem he’s going nowhere.

Russell Westbrook opts for player option

Following a disastrous first season and a less than ambiguous exit interview when it was all over, it now seems that under fire point guard Russell Westbrook is set to stay with the Los Angeles Lakers. According to reports, Westbrook has picked up his player option for next season - the final year of his contract - which will see him earn just over $47 million.

In truth there was never the real possibility that Westbrook wouldn’t be taking his player option and to be clear that was the case even before he joined the Lakers, for what would prove to be an utterly disappointing campaign. With that said what is now clear is that the Lakers are banking on the idea that Westbrook is about to have a comeback season under new coach Darvin Ham. Indeed, Westbrook recently he’s very enthusiastic about getting to know and work with Ham.

What did Russell Westbrook have to say?

It’s worth noting that Westbrook initially claimed that he had given no thought as to whether he’d be picking up his option. Apparently that’s not the case, as the point guard was seemingly very satisfied in his post on social media which he made shortly before the news of him staying broke. To be fair to Westbrook there wasn’t really much to think about. Given the season he just came from and the lack of suitors lining up, it makes sense that he opted to stay.

Where are the Lakers at regarding Russell Westbrook?

Even in the middle of their hunt for a new coach it was never really a doubt that Westbrook would be staying with the team. One will recall in fact that a strategy for the use of Westbrook was actually a pre-requiste for those who were candidates for the post. To that end now that he’s officially staying with the franchise, there isn’t truly a need for any rejigging or restructuring during the offseason. There is, however, one difference and that’s the idea of the Lakers expecting a ‘come back’ campaign from the No. 0.

There is of course the technical possibility that the Lakers could opt to trade Westbrook, buy him out or even waive him, but given that the chances of receiving a player of similar value in return have now more or less evaporated with Kyrie Irving opting in on his own player option in Brooklyn, it seems unlikely that they would think to do so. Irving and Westbrook were of course at the center of trade rumors with the Lakers having explored the option. Ultimately, Westbrook looks set to stay which means the focus must now turn towards getting the best out of him and the rest of the roster following a forgettable 2021-22 season in which one of the league’s most successful teams failed to make the playoffs.

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