Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook has a player option worth $47,063,478 for next season. He’s expected to pick it up since no team is going to pay him anything close to that on the market after his disappointing 2021-22 campaign.
Most pundits expect the Lakers to try to trade Westbrook this summer since he was a poor fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. HoopsHype insider Michael Scotto recently spoke to three NBA executives about what they thought of Westbrook’s trade value and all three execs didn’t hold back.
“Westbrook will still be viewed as a negative asset by most teams, but some teams might be willing to take on one bad year in order to shed three years of future money,” the first executive told Scotto.
“Right now, his trade value is extremely negative,” the second exec told Scotto. “All it takes, however, is one team to be desperate to add talent and have bad contracts to make it happen. The reality is that 95 percent of teams view that as a terrible contract right now. They’re not doing that unless they’re dumping a bunch of stuff.”
The third executive told Scotto that he wouldn’t trade for Westbrook at all.
Cap Expert Talks Lakers’ Options with Westbrook
HoopsHype cap expert Yossi Gozlan predicts that the Lakers will part ways with Westbrook this offseason. However, he doesn’t think the franchise will use the stretch provision.
“I think a separation of some sort is coming. I don’t think a stretch (provision) is going to be in consideration,” Gozlan said. “That would leave $15 million over the next three years of dead money. It’s basically three of Luol Deng, who they just got off.
“I think the idea that the Lakers need to attach an asset just to move Westbrook and that he’s a super negative value is a little overblown. He’s now a huge expiring contract, so to me, he’s a neutral value. I don’t think any team is trading for Westbrook, the player, but they’re going to trade for his big expiring contract if they’re looking to get off money.”
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists this season. He shot 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The one-time MVP was second in the league in turnovers and missed so many open shots that fans started calling him “Russell Westbrick.”
Westbrook sounded like a player who wasn’t coming back to the Lakers next season during his exit interview with reporters. The All-Star guard not only took shots at Frank Vogel, but he also went off on the organization.
Westbrook Went off During Exit Interview
The Lakers fired Vogel while Lakers players were doing their exit interviews with the media. Westbrook, who didn’t have a good relationship with Vogel, didn’t mince words while speaking to reporters for the final time in 2021-22.
“I think it’s unfortunate to be honest because I’ve never had an issue with any of my coaches before,” Westbrook said about Vogel. “I’m not sure what his issue was with me or I’m not sure why, but I can’t really give you an answer to why we really never connected. That’s something that he has to answer, but I never, from the get-go, was feeling like (we were on the same page.) I was having to try to prove myself to him and my capabilities and what I’ve been able to do for this game and it’s unfortunate but it’s really not (my fault). It’s kind of out of my hands.
“When I first got here, unfortunately, people create narratives of who I am and what I do and what I believe in that just aren’t true. I’m always having to prove myself again year after year after year, which to me is really unfair. There’s no reason for me to have to do that. So when I first got in here, I just felt that I never was given a fair chance just to be who I needed to be to help this team.”
It will be intriguing to see where Westbrook is playing next season. If he’s not on the Lakers, whatever team he’s on will be his fifth club in five years.