Russell Westbrook has had several things reported about his future with the Los Angeles Lakers. While some say that Russ will be used as a trade piece, others have insisted that the Lakers management wants to see the star point guard make it work. The only certainty is the fact that Russ has opted into his $47 million player option for next season, meaning the likely way he leaves now, if at all, is via trade.
Westbrook has been unable to gel on the Lakers so far and his inefficient play was a big factor in the Lakers being as bad as they were last season. This means a lot of fans aren't too happy with Russ returning to the team for next season. And now according to the latest Athletic report, Westbrook is expected to be on the roster to start next season but the Lakers will continue to pursue trade options for him.
"Though a Westbrook trade is still possible, the Lakers are currently planning on beginning next season with him on the roster, multiple league sources told The Athletic.
"That could change if the Lakers find a team willing to take on Westbrook’s expiring contract without also demanding a future first-round pick (2027 or 2029), which hasn’t been the case thus far.
"The Lakers would still prefer to trade Westbrook, given the concerns surrounding his declining play, his fit with James and Davis and his willingness to adapt to the team’s desired role for him."
If they truly want it to work with Westbrook, it will be important for him to be fully committed to the team, which might be unlikely if he feels that he will be traded anyway. In any case though, the fact that he is out of contract at the end of the season might ensure that Russ brings it this season even if there is a chance that he won't be doing it for the Lakers in the long term.