Russell Westbrook has been embroiled in trade drama for most of his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers and the polarizing point guard sparked speculation that a move could be on the way by wiping his social media ahead of the team’s preseason opener on Monday.
Westbrook cleared out his Instagram feed to bare bones, which also got rid of anything associated with the Lakers. What’s notable about the move is the timing, with a rumored trade involving Westbrook making news.
It was reported by Shams Charania, Sam Amick and Jovan Buha of The Athletic that the prospect of Westbrook being traded in the coming weeks and months “remains real. Additionally, prior to the start of camp, the team heavily considered sending Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the Pacers for center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield.
The Lakers decided not to roll the dice on what is very much an all-in move, choosing instead to remain patient with Westbrook and his chemistry alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Lakers Made Stance on Trade First-Round Picks Clear
While the plan appears to stick with Westbrook for now, general manager Rob Pelinka made it clear the organization is committed to doing everything in its power to improve the roster.
“One thing that needs to be made clear is a lot of speculation: Will the Lakers trade their picks? Will they not trade their picks?” Pelinka said at media day. “Let me be abundantly clear: We have one of the great players in LeBron James to ever play the game, and he committed to us on a long-term contract, a three-year contract. So of course, we will do everything we can, picks included to make deals to give us a chance to help LeBron get to the end. He committed to our organization. That’s gotta be a bilateral commitment, and it’s there.”
As for Westbrook, he’s said all the right things leading up to the season despite the constant rumors.
“Whether they want me here or not, it doesn’t really matter,” Westbrook said. “My job is to be a professional and show up to work as I’ve always done.”
Westbrook’s Role as Starter Still Uncertain
The Lakers are tinkering with their new-look roster and the idea of Westbrook coming off the bench is a possibility. He’s coming off a year where he averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists but struggled to find consistency. Westbrook was benched during crunch time in some crucial games, which didn’t sit well with the former MVP.
Westbrook started Monday night’s preseason opener against the Kings but coach Darvin Ham has been clear that the team has options.
“We’re ways away. We have different options,” Ham said at Lakers media day. “We signed Dennis [Schroder], we signed Pat Bev, we got healthy Kendrick Nunn along with Russ himself, Austin Reaves. We have a variety of options to fill our backcourt.”
There’s still a lot to sort out when it comes to Westbrook’s future but for the time being, he’ll be sporting purple and gold — even if he’s not doing so on social media.