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How Should The Lakers Handle The Russell Westbrook Situation?

H/T Chris Elise

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook has been very solid for the Lakers thus far in the season. The Lakers have created a new culture, beginning with the addition of Head Coach Darvin Ham. Many Laker fans felt that the 9 time NBA All Star would benefit from coming off the bench and leading the second unit. Coach Ham made it clear to everybody that he would make any necessary moves in the best interest for the organization, "As the coach of this team, we're going to do what's best for our team to be as successful as it can be and I'll just leave it at that".

Coach Ham benched the former MVP four games into the season. In his four games as a starter, the team had a record of 0-4. Since becoming a sixth man, the team is 19-17.

Westbrook made it clear to the organization and the fans that he was willing to do whatever it takes to win, "It's beneficial for everybody in my opinion," Westbrook said. "My job is to find ways to keep making my team better." This kind of attitude is exactly what a team wants to see from one of their star players. Everybody knows that when Westbrook has control of a team, he can be one of the most dominant players in the entire league. While playing alongside superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it should've been as clear as daylight to everyone that there would be a statistical drop off from Westbrook.

Westbrook is playing great basketball in his new role and even comes in at the top of everybody's Sixth Man of the Year lists. He is averaging 15.2 PTS, 8.2 AST, and 6.4 REB off the bench this year in 34 games off the bench.

Although Russell Westbrook has been playing great for the Lakers so far, his future with the organization remains uncertain. Last season, his name was constantly in trade rumors. Many thought he would be dealt by now but that just isn't the case. Russell Westbrook opted into his player option this past summer, making him a free agent in the 2023 offseason. No team is willing to trade for Westbrook unless there is at least one future first round pick involved. Some factors to this include his age, his $47 million contract, and team fit.

The most likely scenario for LA this season is that they will just ride it out with their current roster. A majority of their roster is filled with players on minimum deals or one year deals. In fact, the only players that are under contract past the 2022-2023 season are LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Damian Jones*, and Max Christie.

The Lakers front office is too hesitant to make any sort of move surrounding future first round picks. They don't want to make a move that would set them up for certain failure in the future. They seem to be going the patient route and seeing what kind of offers come their way. We likely either won't see any trades at all, but if a trade were to go through, it would be near or at the trade deadline on February 9th.

The Lakers have many tough decisions to make. Many speculate that they will attempt to bring in a big time free agent in the off season.

As for the Russell Westbrook situation, it is unclear whether or not they will trade him before the deadline or let him walk in free agency. It is almost certain that he will not be signing with L.A. in the off season, so if he doesn't get dealt, it is most likely his last season as a Laker.

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