Russell Westbrook had an incredibly tough year with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. We could be in a situation where Westbrook may be one of the least desired players in the league, evidenced by the difficulty the Lakers are having with a possible trade to send him away. The Lakers are being asked for multiple first-round picks by teams that have entertained a Westbrook trade but are unwilling to part with such draft capital.
Russ did manage something that most players on the Lakers have been struggling with for 2 seasons. He was healthy and available the entire year. Over the 2021-22 season, Russ played 78 games for the Lakers out of a possible 82. That sort of availability is rare in the NBA and it is something Russ gets no credit for.
Former NBA player Antonio Daniels stepped in to give Westbrook his flowers for staying on the floor as often as he could be in an era where players are concerned about load management.
"I'll tell you something people don't say about Russell Westbrook. He didn't do this last year, he didn't do that last year, I'll tell you what Russell Westbrook did. He showed up. He was available. He played 78 games and still have you 18-8-8. It's funny because we've become immune to greatness. What we have done is, in a league where guys are making second-team All-Defense after missing a third or half the season, we don't even give credit to guys anymore for being professional, showing up, and playing. That's wild to me.
Westbrook has shown incredible skill over his career, but he is clearly not the same player anymore. Availability is great but becomes a major issue when your contributions on the court look to be hurting the team instead of helping them.
If Westbrook can find a more team-friendly playing style, he still has a future with the Lakers. Sadly, his ability to stay healthy and be available for every game isn't the thing that's going to entice LA into keeping him for the final year of his contract.