Russell Westbrook’s future has been a hot topic among Los Angeles Lakers fans and media members throughout the summer.
We’ve heard rumors of a potential Kyrie Irving trade with the Brooklyn Nets, and of some residual interest in a deal for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner – yet nothing has materialized, and the superstar guard remains on the Lakers roster.
It’s fair to assume that Westbrook and Los Angeles will be forced to continue their partnership in the upcoming season, yet, according to ESPN’S Ramona Shelbourne, Westbrook remains open to the notion of being traded before the start of the season.
“Russ is very open to a trade. He hasn’t asked for a trade. I’ve been assured of that. But he’s open to that, and somebody who wants him and wants to empower him and wants him to be Russell Westbrook of old,” Shelbourne said on a recent episode of The Lowe Post podcast.
As things currently stand, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in Westbrook and his $41 million salary for the coming season – but, there’s no guarantee that won’t change once training camp gets underway and teams get a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of their current roster.
Brian Windhorst Casts Doubt Over Westbrook & Beverley
Another reason why many believe Westbrook’s days with the Lakers are numbered is because of the team’s recent addition of defensive guard, Patrick Beverley. Looking beyond the pairs’ frosty relationship, Westbrook and Beverley doesn’t project to be a good on-court pairing due to their limitations with perimeter scoring.
Due to Westbrook and Beverley’s lack of shooting, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst isn’t convinced that the guard tandem can help the Lakers return to the post-season in 2023, as he believes the pairing is one of the worst shooting frontcourts in the NBA.
“I don’t believe that the Lakers think this is going to work. I think they’re saying that, and trying to keep a stiff upper lip and make the best out of this because they know they don’t have any Russell Westbrook trade that makes sense for them right now. So, they’re gonna try to make it work.
But let’s be honest, we live in an era where you have to have shooting in the NBA. When the Lakers won their title a couple of years ago, it was with shooting. All of LeBron’s great teams in his career had shooting. You have Westbrook who is one of the worst three-point shooters in the NBA, and Patrick Beverley is coming off the worst three-point shooting year of his career…This duo doesn’t make any sense on a basketball level,” Windhorst said. on a recent episode of NBA Today
Westbrook Urged to Accept a New Role
Given the Lakers’ lack of perimeter shooting and the number of slashers within their rotation, pairing LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook together again next season could be a recipe for disaster.
That’s why multiple NBA scouts recently told Fox Sport’s Ric Bucher that Westbrook’s best chance at finding longevity for the remainder of his career, firmly rested on him showing a willingness to adapt to a bench role – starting this season.
“It is not what he has left, it is: How he will accept that he is not the player that he was? It’s similar to Carmelo. I’m not sure Russ has the awareness to accept a lesser role,” One scout told Boucher.
While another scout had this to say, “It’s hard to see him as anything but a backup for the Lakers…It’s hard for him to play with [Anthony Davis] and LeBron [James]. It might be OK if they let him go with the second unit. He has to play the only way he knows how unless he can miraculously learn to shoot.”
However, given Shelbourne’s recent comments, it would seem Westbrook wishes to continue being the ball-dominant point guard he’s always been, and that will further limit his options as he continues to look for a trade away from Tinseltown.