The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot to think about this summer. LeBron James is getting older, Anthony Davis hasn't proven to be reliable, and they still don't have a coach to take the reigns after Frank Vogel's departure.
But amid everything the Purple and Gold have to consider over these next few months, the future of Russell Westbrook may be the most important matter of all.
The All-Star guard wasn't a good fit alongside James and Davis, and there is growing a sense that the team doesn't want him back for another go next campaign.
If you ask Bill Oram, however, Rob Pelinka should consider keeping the former MVP.
Westbrook became the mistake-a-minute avatar of Lakers failure. By the time it all ended three weeks back, it was clear the team would be better off without Westbrook and vice versa. Only there are no do-overs in the NBA. Rob Pelinka can’t untrade for Westbrook. That’s why the Lakers need to seriously consider not trading Westbrook.
The Lakers were so sure Westbrook could work alongside James and Davis last year, it shouldn’t be that hard for them to talk themselves into it being better the second time around with role players who are actually playable.
The Lakers have almost nothing to lose by bringing Westbrook back next season. Is it ideal? Of course not. But tell me what is. Trading him will always be an option. The Lakers need to be unafraid of other teams calling their bluff. Their position can only improve by seeing how their asset, in this case Westbrook and his massive contract, matures.
Westbrook was the scapegoat for L.A.'s nightmarish season. His flaws on both ends of the floor were exposed to an ugly degree and he got a lot of slack from fans, analysts, and even some within his own team.
At first glance, it might seem like the easier route to just trade Russ and make do with whatever comes after. But the real solution for L.A. might not be trading Westbrook -- it might just be figuring out how to re-tool the roster to maximize his game.
Whatever the case, it's a big decision that the L.A. front office is unlikely to take lightly.