Lakers ‘Receiving Calls’ About Russell Westbrook: Report

Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

Similarly to the Los Angeles Lakers, Russell Westbrook had a torrid start to the new season, however, the star guard has managed to turn things around since embracing a role off the bench.

According to a recent report by Chris Haynes for Bleacher Report, Westbrook’s rapid improvements this season have begun to interest teams around the league, with some front offices making calls to gauge the 33-year-old’s availability in trade discussions.

“With Russell Westbrook thriving in his new role as a sixth man, the Lakers are now receiving calls about his availability, sources say, but talks are not at a serious stage,” Haynes reported on November 10.

Since accepting a role off the Lakers bench, Westbrook has quickly rediscovered some of the form that saw him become a superstar in the first place, as without having to share ball-handling responsibilities with the Lakers’ other star players, the California native is now in a position to play to his strengths.

In his six games off the bench thus far, Westbrook is averaging 18.6 points, 7.1 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 49.5% from the field and 42.9% from the perimeter, so it’s no wonder that other teams around the league are beginning to test the waters on potential trade packages.

Westbrook is in the Final Season of His Current Contract

Throughout the summer, the Lakers were reportedly shopping Westbrook in multiple trade talks, but their refusal to attach future draft assets to any deal ensured that he remained in Los Angeles to begin the season. Now, the Lakers’ front office is appearing justified in their decision, as Westbrook’s stock is rising and teams could potentially be willing to acquire the guard in a player-for-player deal.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, Westbrook is in the final season of his current contract, earning $41.3 million for the season, which will certainly impact the type of talent the Lakers receive in any potential deal.

As such, it’s highly likely Los Angeles will keep Westbrook on their roster for the remainder of the current season before letting him leave the franchise in free agency, thus clearing up a significant portion of their cap sheet. Still, if there is a team that produces an offer that would improve the Lakers’ perimeter offense, or give them a legitimate center to ease the burden on Anthony Daivs, then it’s only logical to expect Rob Pelinka to consider pulling the plug on the Westbrook experiment.

Anthony Davis Sounds Off on Playing Center

When speaking to the media following the Lakers’ November 9 loss to the LA Clippers, Anthony Davis shared his thoughts on how playing as the team’s center is limiting his ability to be an impactful defensive piece for his team. 

“I was able to roam a lot, I was playing the four then, JaVale (McGee) was playing the five, and Dwight (Howard) was playing the five. You know, guarding the perimeter and I got those guys behind me, or weakside helps, we were getting blocks from the weak side. Now, when I’m the five, I’m the one in the actions, pick-and-rolls, the one guarding the post – things like that…In 19-20, I was a roamer, when I can be on whoever the forward is and roam around and help protect everyone, it’s tough for me to do that when I’m guarding the five,” Davis told reporters during a post-game press conference.

If Davis truly believes he can be more beneficial to the Lakers as a power forward than a center, and an opportunity arises for the front office to acquire a high-level rim-runner in return for Westbrook, then it would be prudent of the front office to explore the framework of that deal – after all, Davis is seen as the long-term cornerstone for this current Lakers team.

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