As new Lakers coach Darvin Ham pointed out, Westbrook still has a lot in his tank. However, he doesn't fit well with the current roster, and it's questionable if the Lakers can be successful with him.
This is why Russell Westbrook's trade rumors have been pervasive in the past few weeks. The Lakers are in need of a huge change, and trading the point guard may be the key.
Russell Westbrook's future with the Lakers is not certain
Brian Windhorst, Tim Bontemps and Tim MacMahon of ESPN discussed Russell Westbrook's future with the LA Lakers. Windhorst said the team is going to make some moves this summer, including dealing players with big salaries.
Westbrook is owed over $47 million next season, which makes him one of the league's highest paid players. Despite Westbrook's huge contract and poor performance, Lakers coach Darvin Ham and general manager Rob Pelinka said that the point guard will stay. Ham also said that the focus will be on Westbrook's defense.
Bontemps talked about the Lakers guard sacrificing himself for the good of the team, even if it means coming off the bench. Bontemps compared Westbrook to Allen Iverson, another fantastic guard who refused to be a bench player.
"Allen Iverson got to a point where it was like: 'Hey, Allen, you could be a sixth man and come of the bench and score.' Allen took his ball and went home. Is Russ gonna do that or is he gonna reinvent himself and find a way to use his athleticism to be a useful player?"
Windhorst agreed, but he questioned how long the leash is for Westbrook. The NBA insider talked about how much Frank Vogel, the former Lakers coach, tolerated the guard despite his flaws.
The Porzingis-Doncic comparison
A few months later, the Mavericks traded Porzingis to the Washington Wizards and Doncic was left to run the team on his own terms. The move turned out to be great as Dallas advanced all the way to the Western Conference finals.
In essence, Ham's praise of Westbrook doesn't have to mean much. The Lakers can keep the point guard and try to work things out. However, if nothing gets better, they can try to move him by the trade deadline.
No matter what happens, Westbrook is on an expiring contract. He will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season.