Lakers’ LeBron James Sends Message to Russell Westbrook Amid Trade Rumors

Lakers stars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers stars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook

Los Angeles Lakers superstar small forward LeBron James sent point guard Russell Westbrook a message while the 2016-17 MVP deals with trade rumors.

Westbrook hosted a free basketball camp in Los Angeles and posted a slideshow of pictures on his Instagram page on August 7 with the following caption: “Had the best time connecting with our young people for the return of our Why Not? Foundation Basketball Camp. Over 100 campers from across LA came to elevate the fundamentals of their game for free.”

James was one of the many people who commented on Westbrook’s post. The King wrote, “That’s what it’s all about!!”

The Lakers are trying to trade Westbrook, who was second in the NBA in turnovers and had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage last season. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on July 25 that the Utah Jazz, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers are among the teams who have discussed trades with the Lakers involving Westbrook and draft picks.

James & Westbrook Didn’t Talk on July 8

James and Westbrook didn’t say hi or sit next to each other during the Lakers’ Summer League game on July 8 in Las Vegas. James sat on the south baseline, while Westbrook positioned himself on the opposite sideline.

Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register reported on July 15 that “several people within the Lakers organization acknowledged it was an awkward and tense moment between its two most high-profile superstars.”

Westbrook started 78 games for the Lakers last season. The nine-time All-Star averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4% from the floor, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The Lakers went 31-47 in Westbrook’s 78 appearances and didn’t qualify for the play-in tournament despite having the second-best preseason odds to win the championship.

James ‘Badly’ Wants Lakers to Replace Westbrook with Kyrie Irving

James reportedly “badly” wants to replace Westbrook with Kyrie Irving, according to a July 29 report from Marc Stein of Substack. Stein also reported that Westbrook knows of James’ appetite to play with Irving, whose future with the Brooklyn Nets is up in the air since Kevin Durant has requested a trade.

“As it stands, barring a trade to ship out Westbrook suddenly coalescing after weeks of fruitless talks, (Darvin) Ham is going to have to coach Westbrook, which is bound to be challenging in the extreme given that Westbrook is well aware that the Lakers have been trying hard to move him,” Stein reported. “And that James badly wants Irving to take his place.”

The Lakers could compete for the championship next season if they acquired Irving, who is a better shooter than Westbrook. Irving is a career 39.3% shooter from beyond the arc, while Westbrook is at 30.5%.

“Kyrie’s fit in L.A. probably doesn’t require much analysis. He and LeBron won a title together in 2016,” Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey wrote on July 22. “He can shoot, which is the biggest differentiator between him and Westbrook. And he’s almost four years younger than Westbrook, too. Even with whatever off-court concerns may come with Kyrie, replacing Russ with him feels like a no-brainer.”

Westbrook picked up his $47.1 million player option with the Lakers for next season. Meanwhile, Irving picked up his $36.5 million player option with the Nets.

ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported on July 16 that the Lakers offered Westbrook to the Nets for Irving. However, talks between Los Angeles and Brooklyn haven’t progressed toward an agreement.

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