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NBA

Lakers maintain they won’t be giving up Draft picks for Russell Westbrook trade

The franchise wanted him and they got him, but after a catastrophic season for both the player and the team, the situation between the two has now become dire.

Paul Rudder
Update:
Lakers maintain they won’t be giving up Draft picks for Russell Westbrook trade
AFP

While there have been increasing calls for the point guard to be traded, the Lakers have now made it clear that they don’t intend to accept the short end of the stick in any deal.

The Lakers wanted Russell Westbrook but now not so much

Though the Lakers may be focused on their search for a new head coach, the fact remains that there is still the ‘problem’ of Russell Westbrook. Heavily ridiculed an seemingly on the way out, the former league MVP has essentially become the ‘fall guy’ after a disastrous season for the franchise. This is of course in stark contrast to what was seen just a year ago when the Lakers wanted Westbrook so badly that they relinquished a first-round pick and several rotation players to bring him to Los Angeles in a deadline day deal with the Washington Wizards.

With that said, it has been nothing short of shocking to to watch how his market value has fallen since. Quite frankly Westbrook’s debut season in LA is one to be forgotten and quickly. Add to that the optics of an exit interview at season’s end which showed an inability to self critique and you’ve got a situation where Westbrook isn’t likely to be winning any fans any time soon. To be clear, the Lakers No. 0 has just come from the worst season of his career and in no way has he indicated that he might be in some part responsible for that. So what now?

Lakers won’t give up Draft picks for Russell Westbrook

According to reports, the Lakers have “no intention” of including any first-round picks in any deal for the purpose of off loading Russell Westbrook. What that means and how that pans out is yet to be determined, but we can certainly get a feel for where the franchise stands on a player who was once their top target. That’s to say that it would appear the franchise is trying to determine whether they should continue with the problematic point guard, in the hopes of finding a way to get the best out of him, or undermine future options. On the other hand, it must be said that Westbrook was truthfully only part of what went wrong last season and not the actual cause. What’s certain is this: Should the Lakers truly be unwilling to budge where Westbrook is concerned, they may very soon find that trading him is next to impossible, assuming that’s what they really want to do.

What’s Russell Westbrook’s status right now?

Off the bat it should be understood that Westbrook has a $47.1 million player option for next season that he is widely expected to pick up. Assuming that comes to pass, he will become one of the highest-paid players in in the league, but it must be said with just one single season remaining on the deal. With that in mind, such an agreement wouldn’t be the end of the world if we look at the big picture. It stands to reason that there are likely a number of franchises that would be willing to provide a lengthier contract for Westbrook in the name of long term savings.

On the other hand there are reports that state, “teams have been demanding the inclusion of at least one first-round pick to take on Westbrook’s massive expiring contract. ...Rival teams know how much of a public trainwreck last season was for the Lakers, and they’re not looking to do Los Angeles any favors by helping them off of Westbrook’s contract.” This would explain the Lakers going on the ‘offensive’ with there apparently tough stance on including Draft picks. At this point it remains unclear as to what team would take a chance on Westbrook, but rest assured there are always franchises willing to take on a ‘bad contract’ in the name of draft picks

Could the Lakers’ ‘trash’ be another team’s ‘treasure?’

When all is said and done there is one simple reality, the Lakers as they stand are clearly in need of good players. Yes they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis - stars no doubt - but having surrendered almost the entire supporting cast in the name of acquiring Westbrook during last year’s offseason, the Lakers are now squad thin. Add to that the fact that we can reasonably consider Westbrook a failed experiment in LA and we now have a situation which is a choice between finding a way to turn the former Wizards’ star into the player they hoped for OR accepting the idea that they can’t trade him without some serious concessions. As always, watch this space!

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