Russell Westbrook’s Ridiculous $47 Million Option Means the Lakers Will Have to Lowball Rising Star Malik Monk

The Los Angeles Lakers are tail spinning toward falling well below the lofty NBA title expectations. Russell Westbrook has received the brunt of the criticism due to his porous play that hasn’t shown any improvement.

Westbrook has been anything short of reliable, making the blame for Los Angeles’ shortcomings easier to place on his shoulders. After nine-time All-Star recorded yet another discouraging performance, a disappointing potential reality surfaced that could see the Lakers lose a key piece.

LeBron James’ triple-double leads Lakers to comeback win over Knicks despite Russell Westbrook’s ongoing struggles

With roughly more than a third left in the regular season, Russell Westbrook still can’t shake his struggles.

Westbrook is the primary source of the blame for the Lakers’ shortcomings as he can’t find any stable footing. He provided more fuel to the fire with another lackluster outing in Saturday’s comeback win against the New York Knicks. He scored five points on 1-of-10 shooting while committing four turnovers and holding a -15 plus/minus.

Despite that, LeBron James’ triple-double outing in his return from a five-game absence led the Lakers to an overtime victory. However, the 33-year-old could also deliver another crushing reality for the franchise next offseason.

Russell Westbrook’s $47 million player option could prevent the Lakers from keeping Malik Monk

As frustrating as the Lakers have become to watch on a nightly basis, the team possesses a few bright spots.

LeBron James’ ageless performance in his 19th campaign continues to speak to his one-of-a-kind talent. Meanwhile, Malik Monk is making his $1.7 million salary look like an absolute steal behind his scoring prowess.

The 24-year-old is averaging career highs across the board with 13.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists on 47.0% shooting from the floor and 40.9% from 3-point range. He’s scored at least 20 points 14 times while averaging 18.3 points on 47.7% shooting from the field and 44.5% from beyond the arc in 16 games as a starter.

Monk added to his breakout campaign in Saturday’s overtime comeback win against the Knicks, scoring 25 of his 29 points in the second half and the extra period. His production was pivotal in fueling the surge as he recorded 18 points in the third quarter alone, where Los Angeles outscored New York 31-13 to take the lead.

During the contest, ESPN’s Bobby Marks dropped an interesting nugget of information stating that the most the Lakers could offer Monk as free agency is a $6.3 million mid-level salary due to their limited financial space. Monk’s calculated risk will pay dividends with lucrative offers that will far surpass what Los Angeles can offer.

The Lakers are logjammed with Russell Westbrook, as he will likely pick up his $47 million player option for the 2022-23 campaign. General manager Rob Pelinka’s decision to add a third star player under a massive contract next to James’ $41.8 million salary and Davis’s $35.3 million financially prevents the team from adding more promising talent and could lead them to lose one of their best contributors.

The Lakers are stuck with Russell Westbrook

Pelinka’s decision to acquire Westbrook set the table for the Lakers, forcing him to build the supporting cast primarily through veteran’s minimum contracts.

Los Angeles lucked out that Monk took one of those deals as he’s been a significant reason for the team remaining competitive. Pelinka is attempting to make moves before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, but it’s all but certain the team is stuck with Westbrook.

Outside of moving either DeAndre Jordan or Kent Bazemore, head coach Frank Vogel must make the best with his roster. The Lakers have to exercise tremendous patience with Westbrook as he will have more frustrating performances like he had against the Knicks.

James, Davis, and Monk must pick up the slack in those instances to push the team forward if they hope to accomplish much more than reaching the playoffs.

Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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