Russell Westbrook joining Los Angeles before the start of the season that just passed was supposed to be a move that took the Purple and Gold one step closer to once again winning an NBA championship. It famously proved to be anything but that, and Westbrook had some truly hard-to-watch moments throughout the year, one of which went viral again on Tuesday.
While recent reports have suggested that the Lakers could just keep a hold of Westbrook and that they are approaching Head Coach candidates with that in mind, they did try pretty hard to move him on before the trade deadline. And there was a sticking point at the time that didn't allow the deal to happen, and it seems to have become an issue with the Lakers once again.
According to The Athletic's Jovan Buha, the Lakers do not wish to part with a first-round pick just to be able to move on from Westbrook's contract:
“As of now, they have no intention of using a first-round pick to facilitate a Westbrook trade, according to league sources,” Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported.
Westbrook's contract is a massive one for a player that just had arguably the worst season of his career last year. Russ was extremely inefficient in the clutch, while failing to rebound and assist at the levels everyone had come to expect from him. As such, for any team to be willing to pay him $47 million next season, there will naturally be some incentive expected.
The Lakers have already given up a number of future assets trying to build a roster to compete alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but perhaps they no longer want to give up on any more of their picks. It's looking increasingly likely also that Westbrook might just stay in Los Angeles, something that would have been mildly unfathomable while the regular season was still on.