With training camp fast approaching, there are a couple of major questions still surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers. Arguably the biggest involves the future of point guard Russell Westbrook and whether or not he will be on the roster next season.
Rumors have been flying all offseason about Westbrook with numerous potential trade ideas being reported that would see the Lakers’ point guard shipped out of L.A. But as of yet, nothing has come to fruition.
There is still plenty of time for the Lakers to make a Westbrook trade before the season begins, but the team may prefer to have something done before then. According to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, there is a sense that the Lakers would like to move Westbrook before training camp begins:
“There is a sense among some that training camp is a soft deadline to move Westbrook. If he’s on the roster in late September, there will be a massive off-court distraction, with the media asking about his future, his relationship with James and the organization, Ham’s vision of his role and responsibilities.”
There is little doubt that Westbrook still being on the roster when training camp rolls around will be a major distraction to the team. As Buha noted, the media will surely focus on his future with the franchise, which would take focus away from what’s happening on the court.
The question is whether the Lakers will be willing to do what it takes to come to an agreement on a Westbrook deal. By all accounts, it will likely take the Lakers adding in both their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks to ship Westbrook out and that is something the organization has been unwilling to do thus far.
Perhaps, as we get closer to the start of the regular season, other teams will also become a bit more desperate to get a deal done and the Lakers won’t have to part with both picks. But whether it is a Kyrie Irving trade with the Brooklyn Nets, the Indiana Pacers deal, the three-team deal with the Utah Jazz and New York Knicks, or a new deal that no one is expecting, the Lakers could be looking to get that deal done before the season gets too close.
Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Russell Westbrook
Should Westbrook remain on the roster, however, and start the season with the Lakers, it will be under the guise of new head coach Darvin Ham. The first-time head coach has been vocal about his beliefs in the talent of Westbrook, but he will also likely have a bit more power than Frank Vogel did.
Latest reports suggest that Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook down the stretch of games and potentially even move him out of the starting lineup if he deems that necessary.
Ham has been preaching accountability all offseason so if Westbrook is not delivering what is expected, the Lakers coach will have to do what’s necessary for the betterment of the team.
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