$206 Million All-Star Considered Lakers’ Toughest Player to Trade

Lakers stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers stars LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook has been named the Los Angeles Lakers‘ toughest player to trade by Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report.

Hughes believes Westbrook’s “failure to adapt as he’s aged” makes him difficult to trade.

“Forget the money, even if $47 million is a ton of cash to try to wipe from your memory. The greater obstacle to trading Russell Westbrook is the former MVP’s failure to adapt as he’s aged,” Hughes wrote. “Westbrook’s 2021-22 was the worst season of his career as measured by win shares and Box Plus/Minus. His undisciplined defense and wayward shooting, though unsurprising, stung more because his waning athleticism meant there was no compensating for those shortcomings with relentless rim attacks. The fit was bad from the start, but Westbrook’s diminishing skills and stubborn refusal to change his game mean switching locations won’t make things any better.”

Westbrook appeared in 78 games for the Lakers in 2021-22. He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 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 NBA in turnovers and his effective field goal percentage of 47.6% was sixth-worst in the league.

Westbrook Isn’t the Fastest Player in the League Anymore

Westbrook used to blow by defenders with ease. However, multiple knee surgeries and age have made him slower.

Westbrook has a player option worth $47,063,478 for next season and he’s widely expected to pick it up. Hughes thinks the only way the Lakers will be able to trade Westbrook is if they throw in future draft picks.

“When a former star plays for a different organization in four straight seasons, it’s a pretty good indication that the issue is with him, not the surrounding circumstances,” Hughes wrote. “If the Lakers manage to trade Westbrook, they’ll only accomplish it by finding the foolhardy team that thinks it can change him…and throwing in every draft pick they’re allowed to part with as payment for the hassle.”

Things can always change in the NBA, but it appears Westbrook will be on the Lakers next season. According to Marc Stein of Substack, teams are asking Los Angeles to give up additional assets to trade the All-Star guard and the purple and gold have no interest in doing that. New head coach Darvin Ham also strongly supported Westbrook during his introductory press conference

Ham on Westbrook: ‘There’s Still a Ton Left in the Tank’

Ham was introduced as the Lakers’ new coach on June 6 and Westbrook was at the press conference. Ham sounded like a guy who will be coaching Westbrook in 2022-23.

“Don’t get it messed up. Russell Westbrook is one of the best players our league has ever seen and there’s still a ton left in the tank,” Ham said. “I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off. Russ and I had some really, really great one-on-one convos, man, and the biggest word I think that came out of that, those discussions, was sacrifice. I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career. A lot of that now may have him without the ball in his hand. Most of it now may have it on the defensive end. But again, we have to sacrifice. There’s no achieving anything without all parties sharing the load, sacrificing, instead of one-on-one.”

Westbrook was booed at home games and called “Russell Westbrick” in 2021-22. Ham will be tasked with turning Russ and the Lakers around.

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