NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers Stubbornly Shutting the Door on Any Chance of Moving Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers anticipated a significant adjustment for star point guard Russell Westbrook but didn’t envision it playing out as disappointingly as it has. Westbrook’s struggles have fueled the growing doubt concerning the franchise’s NBA title chances, leading to trade chatter to sprout. The Lakers now may have just stubbornly closed the door on any opportunity to move the nine-time All-Star ahead of next month’s deadline.

Russell Westbrook’s ongoing struggles with the Lakers

The Lakers have tumbled through the season, splitting their first 48 games, falling to the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture.

The collective struggles have shined the spotlight on Westbrook’s ongoing issues. He’s averaging his typical all-around production with 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.7 assists while recording nine triple-doubles.

However, Westbrook has notably struggled with his decision-making in late-game situations, while outside shooting struggles (29.3% from 3-point range) have amplified the growing concerns. All those factors have made any pathway toward trading him before next month’s deadline nearly unrealistic.

The Lakers may have now just closed the door entirely on that possibility.

NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers Stubbornly Shutting the Door on Any Chance of Moving Russell Westbrook

As the trade deadline moves closer, the Lakers remain without significant outside interest in their star point guard.

Westbrook’s struggles, coupled with his massive contract, have made him an undesirable piece as only the Houston Rockets are willing to acquire the nine-time All-Star. However, the Lakers may have shut the door on even the possibility of moving him to the Rockets.

“Yet there are also major optics concerns for the Lakers,” New York Times‘ Marc Stein recently wrote. “Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on 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 the Lakers’ front office to go all-in for Westbrook rather than proceed with GM Rob Pelinka’s plans to trade for Sacramento’s Buddy Hield.”

The Lakers are worried that the optics would appear they lost out twice on Westbrook. Any move would likely require them to part ways with another first-round pick, painting the picture that they needed to shell out more assets.

Unless a three-team deal formulates, Los Angeles is essentially signaling that the team will push forward with Westbrook. Anthony Davis returning may only fuel the desire to see what their big three can accomplish together over the rest of the season. In other words, Westbrook will have a chance to at least finish out his first campaign with the Lakers.

The Lakers will likely ride it out with Russell Westbrook

As bumpy of a ride it has been for Westbrook in a Lakers uniform, time remains ahead.

Los Angeles has 34 regular-season games left to figure out their identity, especially with their big three all healthy. The Lakers have only played 16 games with their stars together, which isn’t enough to build anything sustainable.

However, the clock is ticking as the Lakers don’t have any wiggle room for extended skids. Davis’ return will provide a significant lift defensively while adding a much-needed consistent scoring punch.

If the Lakers hope to have any realistic chance of vying for an NBA title, Westbrook must fit into his role as the third offensive factor behind Davis and LeBron James. The pressure is on him to figure it out because if not, his homecoming could result in a disappointing end.

Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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