Lakers fans hoping for a deal with Russell Westbrook shouldn’t have their hopes up.
The nine-time All-Star has struggled in his first season with Los Angeles, entering Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia 24-24 overall. Westbrook’s failure to play alongside LeBron James fueled commercial speculation ahead of the February 10 deadline, and a report from Marc Stein only added fuel to the fire.
NBA veteran insider noted in a recent newsletter that the Rockets opened for a Swap Westbrook-for-John Wall. Dynamic bodyguards have been swapped – Houston and Washington completed a deal in December 2020 – and remain very similar in terms of their salaries for 2021-22 ($44.3 million for Wall and $44.2 million for Westbrook). Wall isn’t currently in the Rockets’ rotation, but that’s more due to reported disagreement over his role than due to injury. He’ll be able to immediately contribute to a Lakers team looking to rise up in the Western Conference rankings.
However, a potential Lakers and Rockets deal is highly unlikely to happen ahead of time. Stein follow in its initial report, revealed Los Angeles was unwilling to include its 2027 first-round pick in that hypothetical deal. Houston will only bring back Westbrook if some sort of sweetener is attached, so that will be a sticking point in any negotiations.
Additionally, Stein made it clear that the Lakers didn’t want to admit trading for Westbrook was a mistake just months after they sent multiple pieces to get him.
However, there are also major optical concerns for the Lakers. Team officials, sources said, are reluctant to pay a premium to move in from Westbrook soon after the Lakers have given up so much to acquire the Los Angeles-born player. Remember: They had to send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and pick 22 in last July’s draft to Washington after James and Davis encouraged the Lakers main office to go all out for Westbrook instead. for continuing with GM. Rob Pelinka plans to trade for Buddy Hield of Sacramento.
Unless their stance suddenly changes, the Lakers will keep Westbrook and count on him to make an impact in the long run. As a source on the team told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne“This is the only option. There is no Plan B for this season.”