Russell Westbrook’s contract value and performance from the previous season is posing a problem for the LA Lakers in terms of his trade value.
Westbrook had a sub-par season in his first year with the Lakers, finding it hard to excel alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He played 78 games in the season, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists. His numbers have dropped drastically from what they were during his stint with the Washington Wizards.
Westbrook has been a dominant face in the league for a long time and can make a team better if he is its centerpiece. However, his history isn’t enough for teams to take the plunge on him this offseason given his age.
The “First Things First” crew recently discussed the situation the LA Lakers are in, and Nick Wright urged the franchise to act now. He said:
“The Lakers – if they’re not going to vastly incentivize another team to take Russ off their hands, then they’re not going to have any chance of getting anyone to take Russ of their hands.”
Westbrook has a year left on his LA Lakers contract, worth $47 million. Wright believes the team should use this factor in their favor during trade talks and said:
“We’re trading you an expiring contract’ – that is what Russell Westbrook is; that is his value. And we want some pieces back, so we will give you draft picks.”
“The idea that they’re going to mind meld any of these teams into thinking – ‘Oh Russ at this age, at this level of play is going to help you’ - that’s not going to happen.”
The Golden State Warriors are an example of a team that has spent money wisely in order to build a strong team. Taking their success as an example, teams could look to get some extra cap space for next season by bringing in younger players. This could in turn give them enough incentive and cash to take on Westbrook’s expiring contract.
On his end, the 33-year-old can help that possibly young team gain experience while also rediscovering his form.
Wright then went on to add:
“The Lakers are not operating as if the rest of the league had league pass last year, and watched Russell Westbrook play. They need to operate as if they did, and the other teams know what Russ is. And if they don’t, I don’t think they’ll be able to move him.”
Do the LA Lakers have valuable trade assets?
The LA Lakers’ failed experiment last season not only saw them miss the playoffs, but a lot of their players are now viewed differently.
Anthony Davis’ injury troubles have caused concern over his fitness levels and raised doubts about how good he could be next season. Talen Horton-Tucker, the youngest player on the roster, had a largely disappointing campaign.
Wright even commented on the possible addition of Horton-Tucker, nicknamed THT, to a Westbrook deal, as he said:
“I don’t know how much – Klutch client aside – value THT has across the league at $10 million per year. He did once upon a time, but not after the season he just had.”
Horton-Tucker played 60 games last season, averaging 10 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He was unable to match the expectations the franchise had of him, and has seen his trade value drop as a result.
The LA Lakers look set for a tough summer ahead as they try to get back into championship contention.