The Los Angeles Lakers have tried to make the Russell Westbrook experiment work but he just doesn’t appear to be a fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Now, the time is a bit stuck with him.
Given the depleted trade assets the Lakers have, there is a bleak landscape when it comes to moving Westbrook in a trade. Los Angeles did have the option of moving him to the Houston Rockets in exchange for John Wall, but team management ultimately decided not to execute a deal.
As Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reported, Klutch Sports Group (represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis) is “not happy” with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka for his refusal to trade Russell Westbrook and a future first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for Klutch client John Wall.
“According to multiple NBA sources, Klutch is not happy with Pelinka,” Pincus wrote. “The sentiment has long percolated, but it reached a boil when Pelinka refused to trade Westbrook and a future first-round pick (likely 2027) for Houston Rockets guard and Klutch client John Wall.”
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Perhaps most interesting of all with James’ desire to trade Westbrook is that he was an advocate for the move in the first place. Instead of executing a trade for one of the NBA’s top catch-and-shoot threats in Buddy Hield, James’ influence ultimately resulted in the Lakers shifting course to a Westbrook trade.
“Last summer, James met with Westbrook, agreeing that a team-up would work in Los Angeles, per a source privy to the details of the meeting. Pelinka was close to acquiring Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings but pivoted to Westbrook at the last moment ahead of the 2021 NBA draft.”
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There doesn’t appear to be a clean solution for either the Los Angeles Lakers or LeBron James when it comes to contending for another NBA championship. James appears to be primed to depart from the organization in the near future—leaving another organization with a depleted set of assets. Or, do the Lakers make yet another short-sighted trade by moving Westbrook to appease “King James” despite still having a low chance of winning a title?
LeBron James is under contract with the Los Angeles Lakers only through the 2022-23 season. By keeping him on the team, the team is risking losing him for nothing unless they feel as though a sign-and-trade could be a viable option if he were to depart.