The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to restart trade talks surrounding polarizing point guard Russell Westbrook after taking a short pause on looking for a deal.
Westbrook’s name had been heavily involved in trade rumors throughout the offseason but the Lakers decided to reel things in at the start of training camp.
Talks on dealing Westbrook went up to the “cusp” of camp, per The Athletic, with the Lakers getting very close to sending the former MVP to Indiana for a package that would have included Buddy Hield and Myles Turner. The franchise eventually decided against the move, which would have required at least one of their future first-round picks.
While things have been quiet on the trade front lately, they’re expected to pick up in the coming weeks, per Adrian Wojnarowski or ESPN.
“The Lakers at some point here will start engaging teams again on possible Russell Westbrook trades,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Today on Friday. “They paused it essentially at the start of training camp. It gets a little quiet here with teams putting their rosters together, making their cuts and then seeing what it looks like.”
Westbrook Under Fire for Interactions With Teammates
Westbrook has been under fire for some viral videos that showed him showing him looking disinterested in interacting with his teammates and he previously said he didn’t need to feel “wanted” by the Lakers.
“I don’t need to,” Westbrook told ESPN prior to the start of camp. “I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete.”
The Lakers have been doing their best to keep things as normal as possible despite the rampant rumors surrounding Westbrook. Head coach Darvin Ham has been clear that he has a plan for the veteran guard and has been a vocal supporter.
“Man, just he’s ours, and we love him and we want him to do well,” Ham said on October 4. “Like I said, I have a plan for him. That plan included him when they gave me the job. So it’s been a great camp for him. He’s played well. Energy has been through the roof. It’s been great. … It’s the nature of the beast, and we understand that. So what we do is try to block out all the noise and just try to focus on the work. And he’s a big part of what we’ve been doing, a big part of the work.”
Westbrook Shifts to Bench Role for Final Preseason Game
The timing of Woj’s report was interesting, as it came on the day it was announced that Westbrook would be coming off the bench for the Lakers final preseason game. Westbrook has not come off the bench since his rookie year but has said he’d be open to any role.
“I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
The Lakers have run out a variety of starting lineups in the preseason but Westbrook has been in the first five in all of those. It is the sixth different combo for LA in six preseason games.
The Lakers open the regular season on October 18 against the defending champion Warriors.