However, one of the Lakers’ advisors may want to keep the one-time MVP and move on from LeBron James instead.
On May 11, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times went on The Doug Gottlieb Show and the veteran Lakers writer said he’s heard that Phil Jackson wants to trade James and keep Westbrook.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Jackson is “significantly involved” in the Lakers’ coaching search.
“I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded,” Plaschke said. “I’ve just heard that, but I’ve got nothing to back that up. No on-the-record stuff to back that up. I do know that Phil would like to keep Westbrook and try to make that work with him.”
Jackson won five championships with the Lakers and used to date owner Jeanie Buss. The Zen Master doesn’t have a relationship with James, who no longer likes the 11-time champion.
James Doesn’t like Jackson
In 2016, Jackson characterized James’ business associates as a “posse.” Since then, the King hasn’t talked to Jackson, who is close with Buss.
“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do,” James said in 2016 to ESPN. “Obviously, he was at the helm of my favorite player of all time (Michael Jordan) and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him. It just sucks that now at this point having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that’s done so many great business [deals], that the title for young African-Americans is the word posse.”
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, James is considering playing out his present contract and not signing a two-year extension this offseason. Amick also reported that Buss won’t consider trading LBJ this offseason, even if Jackson advises her to.
Jackson Is a Fan of Westbrook
In the same column where he reported that Buss won’t trade James this summer, Amick also said that Jackson is a fan of Westbrook, who has a player option worth $47,063,478 for next season.
“And how’s this for a tidbit to tie this thread up: Phil Jackson is known to have been a fan of Westbrook’s throughout his career,” Amick reported. “Sources say Phil Jackson has no interest in taking on this coaching job (or any other) himself — let’s just stop that rumor right here — but his view of Westbrook is relevant. As we’ve established, Jackson’s voice matters again.”
Westbrook 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 in 2021-22. He was second in the NBA in turnovers and didn’t fit well with James and Anthony Davis since he struggled to shoot from the perimeter.