Kyrie Irving’s trade speculation may have stopped (for now), but that doesn’t mean the Los Angeles Lakers point guard drama has come to an end. On Thursday, the Lakerssparking speculation about the status of beleaguered nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook moving forward.
It’s no secret that the Lakers have been eyeing deals involving Westbrook for quite some time, with multiple reports saying potential deals have been crushed due to the Lakers’ reluctance to buy one or both of their available future first-round picks. to take. With Irving off the table, it seemed likely that the team would enter training camp with Westbrook as base watch. New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has already talked about afor the former MVP shooting more corner three-pointers.
However, the addition of Beverley once again raises questions about Westbrook’s future with the Lakers. With Beverley on the roster, it’s even more likely that Westbrook won’t be on the field for the Lakers at all next season, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha. Westbrook can either be traded or simply ejected from the team. More from The Athletic:
Beverley’s arrival makes it more likely that Westbrook will be at the start of the active roster training camp, either through a trade or the team that sent him home with the Rockets with John Wall last season, according to a source close to the situation.”
Acted, sure. But the John Wall treatment? That’s a scenario that hasn’t really been put forward as a realistic possibility. Beverley is a serviceable base guard and may well add some spice to a Lakers defense that plummeted from an NBA best in 2020-21 to 21st last season. Westbrook was one of the worst attacking players in the league last season in terms of efficiency – his 0.844 points per possession were second to last for any player with at least 1,000 possession, according to Synergy Sports – but if he’s willing to take on a new role under Ham, he may offer much more dynamism and offensive firepower than Beverley.
The fact that the Lakers would be willing to pay Westbrook $47 million to sit at home is testament to the deteriorating relationship between the two sides. Obviously a trade is preferable—deals with Myles Turner and Buddy Loved from the rebuilding Indiana Pacers come to mind—but that would almost certainly require the Lakers to give up at least one of their future picks, especially since Talen Horton- Tucker, one of their only young recruits, went to the Utah Jazz in the Beverley trade.
Until now, the Lakers have been unwilling to jeopardize their future to get Westbrook off the roster, and now it looks like they’re content to eat his paycheck to keep him away from the team. Of course, there is always the possibility that this report from the Lakers gives the impression that they are not as desperate to discharge Westbrook as it seems. Only time will tell, but it is looking increasingly realistic that Westbrook is not fit for the Lakers to start the 2021-22 season.