• The Lakers are reportedly dead set on keeping Russell Westbrook on the roster
  • Trading him despite giving up assets would have been a generally positive move
  • Westbrook can alleviate the hesitations of Lakers fans by changing his style of play

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to remain bullish on their stance about not moving Russell Westbrook to another team, and it could very well hurt their chances of competing next season.

NBA insider Marc Stein recently reported on his Substack that the Lakers are more keen on keeping Westbrook than giving up other assets in an attempt to trade him while also shutting down any notions of the franchise releasing him.

“The Lakers are tuning out the skeptics yet again and insisting to anyone who will listen that they would rather keep Russell Westbrook on the roster for next season than surrender additional assets to convince someone to trade for him,” Stein stated.

Moving Westbrook to another team would have opened up a ton of cap space for the Lakers since the former league MVP has a player option worth $47 million in the last year of the five-year extension that he had signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder back in the 2018-19 season.

That amount of money could be used to help fill out the roster depth that they blew up in order to acquire Westbrook in the first place and build around the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Since winning their record-tying 17th NBA title back in the 2020 Finals, the Lakers have not been a credible threat in the Western Conference despite having James.

Injuries have played a major role in sinking the Lakers’ ship, but the blame can also be placed on the front office for not making the moves necessary to keep their championship team together while adding some improvements around the margins.

Stein also noted that new head coach Darvin Ham is going to have a tough time on his hands to get the most out of Westbrook.

“Ham, however, instantly becomes the point man for Russ' [Russell Westbrook] reintegration with the team if the Lakers hold firm on those intentions for the next three-plus months.”

However, Westbrook can still do something on his end to help the Lakers improve, which is to stop shooting threes.

Westbrook is shooting 30.5% from beyond the arc for his career, and if he instead chooses to be more aggressive and get to the foul line instead, that would be an ideal scenario for the Lakers.

Focusing on being a playmaking point guard rather than a scoring threat might seem difficult to imagine, but Westbrook has been able to put up multiple double-digit assist numbers for a season which includes his lone season with the Washington Wizards.

This coming offseason is going to be the most important in years for the Lakers, and everything hinges on what they do with Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Damian Lillard #0 and Larry Nance Jr. #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against Damian Lillard #0 and Larry Nance Jr. #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images | Katelyn Mulcahy