One of the most disappointing seasons in Los Angeles Lakers’ history has finally come to an end and players are getting a chance to discuss what went wrong. At the center of the team’s struggles was Russell Westbrook. The former MVP was the team’s big addition of the offseason and he was supposed to be part of one of the best trios in the NBA alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
It quickly became clear that the trio was ill-fitting and they didn’t get many games together to solve their issues. Westbrook was frequently mocked by fans and reports have come out suggesting that he was difficult to work with. Throughout the season, LeBron and Davis offered their support for Westbrook. They were two of the biggest drivings forces for the Lakers to trade for him.
While the two supported him in the media, Westbrook wasn’t buying what the superstars were selling. During his exit interview for the season, the guard suggested that Davis and LeBron weren’t truthful when talking about him.
“Yeah, but that wasn’t true. Let’s be honest,” Westbrook said when asked about LeBron and Davis saying they need to “let Russ be Russ.”
Calling out LeBron and Davis isn’t a great strategy if he hopes to stay with the team. He’s said that the plan is for him to return but comments like these almost give the Lakers no choice but to move him. This offseason could get uncomfortable.
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Rob Pelinka Vague on Westbrook’s Lakers Future
It’s hard to imagine there’s anybody in the Lakers front office that wants to keep Westbrook next season. He’s not a fit with Davis and LeBron. Unfortunately, trading him could prove difficult. He’s set to make $47 million next season and it’s clear that he’s a declining asset. Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka had a chance to speak about Westbrook’s future and didn’t give any definitive answers.
“Russ is a Hall of Fame player that gave everything that he could to this organization this year,” Pelinka said. “He battled every game and we’re so appreciative of that. In terms of Russell Westbrook and his future — part of that’s in his control, first things first. He has a player option. I’m sure he’ll sit down with his agent and have discussions around that. And like any player, we’ll partner with him after that decision is made on what’s best for his future. Again, rest assured, we’re going to look under every stone for ways to be better, and be open to anything that will improve our team and put us in a position to compete at a higher level next year than we did this year.”
As Pelinka noted, Westbrook has a player option but it’s almost impossible to imagine that he’d decline it. His days as a max player are over and next season will be the last time he makes that kind of money for playing basketball.
Westbrook Claims He Hasn’t Thought About His Player Option
While Westbrook will almost certainly pick up his player option this offseason, it is a decision he has to think about. This couldn’t have been a fun season for him. It was easily his worst season since he was a rookie and didn’t have a good time playing in front of the Lakers fans. He was asked about the player option and said no decision has been made yet.
“I’ll make that decision, that’s why it’s called a player option,” Westbrook said. “I haven’t thought that far into anything.”
Westbrook is likely better off leaving the team but he can’t leave that much money on the table. He’ll pick up the player option and then the Lakers will explore trade options.