With the NBA offseason drawing closer, quite a few teams are already preparing for what direction they want to head moving forward. One of those teams is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have quite a few different directions they could choose from. Could bringing back former fan favorite and superstar Russell Westbrook be in the cards for the Thunder via a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers?
After a brutal first season with the Lakers, it seems likely that Westbrook will be gone one way or another. Los Angeles could look to trade Westbrook, or they might end up having to buy him out. Either way, a new team seems likely.
Should the Lakers look to find a trade partner, the Thunder are a team that have come up.
CBS Sports recently named the Thunder a “likely contender” to trade for Westbrook with the Lakers. They wouldn’t be making the move to build around Westbrook, but some fans would still like to see him back in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have no great interest in a reunion with Westbrook. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is their point guard now. They do, however, have a brief window leading up to the draft in which they can use their mountain of leftover 2021-22 cap space. That cap space evaporates when the league year flips over because of Gilgeous-Alexander’s new contract, so if they can get value out of it by taking on Westbrook, it’s something they might consider. The flip side of that, though, is that the Thunder are already about to jump over the cap due to Gilgeous-Alexander’s contract, and they still have dead Kemba Walker money on their books. Are they really willing to flirt with the tax by taking on Westbrook just for a few more draft picks? That’s unclear.
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During the 2021-22 NBA season with the Lakers, Westbrook ended up averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game. He shot 44.4 percent from the floor overall, but only made 29.8 percent of his three-point attempts. It wasn’t a great season, but it wasn’t as awful as some make it out to be.
There is no question that the 33-year-old guard comes with some baggage. However, he still has the ability to make a big impact on the game in the right situation. The Lakers simply were not the right fit for him.
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Granted, like the quote says above, the Thunder aren’t necessarily interested in reuniting with Westbrook. They would be more interested in being compensated for taking him on.
Expect to hear plenty of rumors this offseason surrounding Russell Westbrook and the Lakers. The Thunder may be a team to watch. Other intriguing destinations could include the New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Indiana Pacers.