Should the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook amid rumors about LeBron James’ future in Los Angeles? | Ovarian Report

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    The Los Angeles Lakers could make multiple decisions to change the franchise during the 2022 NBA season.

    Chief among them is General Russell Westbrook’s $47.1 million future, which looks like a major summer business candidate, but only if the front office is willing to make sacrifices in the exchange.

    Those sacrifices—either rolling out draft picks or reclaiming bloated contracts (or both)—could be easier to handle with a stronger understanding of LeBron James’ future. He becomes eligible for an extension in August, but without a new agreement, he only signed during the 2022-23 campaign. Lakers not expected to get commitment from James prior to draft and free agency, Bleacher reports Eric Pincus.

    Without that commitment, Los Angeles’ long-term future is as clear as mud. So how should the front office deal with Westbrook’s situation? We’ll explore all aspects of this question here.

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    Westbrook is 33 and has more than 35,000 regular season minutes under his belt, so it’s possible that his struggles last season were mostly related to normal deterioration.

    However, his biggest problem in Los Angeles was with fitness. Frankly, his style does not fit this list and his salary does not match the payroll.

    Shutting him out of trade could create resilience on both fronts. Ship it out, and the Lakers will almost certainly bring back a more well-rounded talent. A 3D contributor might be perfect, but in truth, even shooting or defending specialists will make life easier for James.

    As for the financial picture, the Lakers need more digestible deals to facilitate deals. Turning Westbrook’s $47 million into a few more manageable amounts could grease the gears for separate swaps.

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    Westbrook remains a senior shareholder.

    It was hard sometimes to see this last season, when everything that could possibly go wrong for the Lakers went wrong, but it’s true regardless. It was one of the least productive campaigns ever, and he still came out of it with an average of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists. Just Four other players (All-Stars) posted 7/18/7 lines.

    There are still many players who are progressing faster than Westbrook. He can still put players on a label. It remains a prolific lane with only one season left to win three titles in four years.

    The Lakers will lose talent in the Westbrook trade, and the sacrifices won’t stop there. Unless they redeem terrible contracts (which could confuse the payroll long after James leaves), they’ll almost certainly give up at least one first-round pick, which could have been spent on a different deal.

    In other words, Los Angeles will pay an insignificant price to trade a talented player for one (or players) who aren’t talented.

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    This answer hinges on the franchisor’s willingness to spend.

    If the Lakers can strike a Westbrook deal without giving up the first-round pick, they should be done with. However, it could mean restoring bloated contracts that will last longer than his expired deal – and longer than James’s. It’s a big risk if James ends up leaving next summer, but it will give next season’s group the best chance of winning the title, so perhaps the organization feels it will be worth it.

    It would be easier to make if the Lakers knew James wasn’t going anywhere, but it doesn’t look like they would have that assurance. Therefore, they have to take the lead and hope that James will either decide to stay or help lead another championship before his departure.

    Again, it’s a risk, but is it less risky than bringing it back with Westbrook and hoping next season won’t be as bad as last? You can certainly argue with that.