Russell Westbrook proved to be a questionable fit with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021-22 season, fueling speculations over the 2017 NBA MVP’s future.
The Lakers tried to part ways with Westbrook during the previous campaign — but couldn’t agree on a deal with any team before the February trade deadline passed. Following head coach Darvin Ham’s appointment, it seemed like L.A. accepted the fact the guard will be on the roster in 2022-23.
However, rumors about the Purple and Gold possibly trading Westbrook resurfaced when Brooklyn Nets playmaker Kyrie Irving and Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal started being linked with a move to L.A.
But vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has pointed out the 33-year-old has to exercise the $47.1 million player option for the next season before his future can be determined. “Russ has a decision to make about his option,” Pelinka says.
“He earned that right in his contract just with his play when he negotiated that contract originally and I think Darvin and I have had meetings with Russ and have just been honest about how we think he fits with this team and what we expect of him next year if he decides to opt in and be here.”
Pelinka says the Lakers will welcome Westbrook if the guard decides to come back. Also, the general manager adds the playmaker has shown willingness to commit to L.A.’s defense-first attitude.
“He’s ready to embrace a philosophy of defense-first as well and he’s made that clear to Darvin and me if he chooses to come back,” Pelinka says.
“But he hasn’t given us a final decision on that yet and he has more days to figure all that out with his family. But if he comes back, he will be embraced here with open arms and want to put a path in front of him to have a successful season.”
Irving & LeBron James reportedly discussed potential reunion on Lakers
Irving’s difficult contract negotiations with the Nets have prompted speculations the Lakers could trade for the guard — most likely sending Westbrook to Brooklyn.
The rumors only intensified after reports that claimed Irving and LeBron James have already discussed potentially reuniting in L.A.
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