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The Lakers Are Reportedly 'Still More Likely Than Not' To Trade Russell Westbrook Before The Start Of The Season

The Lakers Are Reportedly 'Still More Likely Than Not' To Trade Russell Westbrook Before The Start Of The Season

By acquiring Patrick Beverley from the Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers surprised a lot of people in the basketball world. Besides the backlog of complicated history between the two players, their on-court fit doesn't seem very ideal for most.

Still, despite the awkwardness, both players seem to have made peace with playing together this season.

But in a recent article by The Athletic, NBA insider David Aldridge revealed that there's still a good chance that Russ isn't on L.A.'s roster by opening night.

People are fascinated by car crashes. Even though they can be grisly and tragic. We’re so into them there’s a term used by traffic reporters: “rubbernecking,” referring to people on the opposite side of a highway, who slow down and impede traffic going in the opposite direction to stare at a crash on the other side. So we are lying if we don’t admit: we’d love to see what would happen with Westbrook and PatBev on the same team, given their contentious history, going at one another every day in practice, fighting for minutes. It would be insane for the Lakers to actually do this, mind you. So it’s still more likely than not that Westbrook will start the season on someone else’s roster, whether after a direct trade or via buyout. Many of Beverley’s numbers trended in the wrong direction in Minnesota last season, but he still is a first-rate tone-setter and culture adjuster. The latter is not as necessary on a team led by James, but PatBev still brings value to a win-yesterday team like the Lakers.

If the Lakers somehow manage to get anything approaching the long-rumored package of Buddy Hield and/or Myles Turner from Indy for Westbrook, this ranking would climb significantly. For now, though, even as the Lakers got a little younger this offseason, almost none of the players they’ve brought in, other than Bryant, project to be plus shooters at their positions. Their one consistent shooter from last season, Monk, walked to the Kings. If you squint, with Beverley, Nunn, Walker, Brown and JTA, and Ham putting in the Bucks’ drop coverages for the bigs, maybe they could become a longer, switchy disruptive team on the perimeter, with Davis and Bryant in the back. But you need really good bifocals to see that clearly.

But Ham is highly regarded and respected after doing great work as an assistant in Atlanta and Milwaukee for Mike Budenholzer. He has the gravitas of a former player, the temperament and work ethic of a non-star — and the toughness that comes after you, literally, get shot in the face and survive. James has obviously signed off, literally and figuratively, to playing for DHam for the foreseeable future.

In David's ranking of the 2022 NBA offseason, the Lakers came in at 23rd with the acquisitions of Beverley, Troy Brown Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Thomas Bryant. 

Overall, the Lakers have improved this summer as a team. They are younger, deeper, and just seem to be better equipped to win games.

Regarding what's next for Russell Westbrook, that book is still being written, but don't think for a second that he's all good with the Lakers.