Russell Westbrook’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers is looming as free agency approaches.
In the coming days, Russell Westbrook will have to decide whether to either opt in or opt out of the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He has a player option for the 2022-23 NBA season worth over $47 million. Westbrook initially signed this massive contract when he was still with the organization who drafted him in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now firmly on the wrong side of 30, Westbrook has to either adapt his game or possibly deal with the harsh reality he could be out of the league sooner rather than later.
Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and incoming head coach Darvin Ham have met with Westbrook multiple times about what his role will have to be to stay on the team. They want him “to be a defense-first player.” Westbrook may play with a ton of energy, but self-awareness has never been his cup of tea. The Lakers were beyond atrocious last season.
This is a ton of money Westbrook would be willing to give up if he were to test the open market.
Los Angeles Lakers have met with Russell Westbrook about his future with team
No matter how the Lakers view this, the ball is in Westbrook’s court. Again, this is so much money for a player to give up who will be turning 34-years-old in November. He is never going to make this much money again in his playing career. With that in mind, it is imperative for the Lakers and Westbrook to get on the same page about how they can best make this final year together work.
If Westbrook can embrace his role of being the Lakers’ No. 3 option and a total energy guy for one more season, they have an outside shot of doing something special. Of course, this hinges entirely on LeBron James staying healthy and Anthony Davis being more assertive, no matter how reluctant he is in that endeavor. Regardless, it is Ham’s team, as Frank Vogel is no longer in charge.
This may be Ham’s first stab at being an NBA head coach, but he is a former league champion, a basketball legend at his alma mater of Texas Tech University and above all, a proven top assistant under Mike Budenholzer. No doubt about it, this is a huge first opportunity for Ham, and one would think he will make the most of it. Thus, it will serve him to have Westbrook working for him.
If Westbrook is receptive to what the Lakers brass wants out of him, there is a chance it may work.