Lakers fans hoping for a Russell Westbrook trade shouldn’t get their hopes up.
The nine-time All-Star has struggled in his first season with Los Angeles, which enters Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia with an overall record of 24-24. Westbrook’s lack of success playing alongside LeBron James has increased trade speculation ahead of the February 10 deadline, and a report from Marc Stein only added fuel to the fire.
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The NBA veteran noted in a recent newsletter that the Rockets were open to a Westbrook-for-John Wall trade. The dynamic guards have already traded with each other (Houston and Washington completed a deal in December 2020) and remain a good match in terms of their 2021-22 salaries ($44.3 million for Wall and $44.2 million for Westbrook). . Wall isn’t currently part of the Rockets’ rotation, but that’s due to a reported disagreement about his role rather than injury. He would be in a position to contribute immediately for a Lakers team looking to move up the Western Conference standings.
However, a potential trade between the Lakers and Rockets is highly unlikely to happen before the deadline. Stein followed up with his initial briefing, revealing that Los Angeles is unwilling to include its 2027 first-round pick in that hypothetical deal. Houston would only get Westbrook back if some kind of sweetener was added, so he would be a sticking point in any trade.
Additionally, Stein made it clear that the Lakers don’t want to admit that trading for Westbrook was a mistake just a few months after they sent multiple pieces to acquire him.
However, there are also significant optical concerns for the Lakers. Team officials, sources say, don’t want to pay a premium to move from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native. Remember: They had to send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in last July’s draft to Washington after James and Davis encouraged Lakers management to bet on Westbrook instead of continue with GM. Rob Pelinka’s plans to trade for Sacramento’s Buddy Hield.
Unless his stance changes unexpectedly, the Lakers will keep Westbrook and count on him to make an impact down the stretch. As a team source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, “This is the only option. There is no Plan B for this season.”