Russell Westbrook Trade Rumors: Lakers PG Doesn't Have Big Market Ahead of Deadline

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 8, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers guard Malik Monk (11) celebrates with guard Russell Westbrook after scoring during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The Los Angeles Lakers may have trouble moving point guard Russell Westbrook if they look to trade him before the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reported the following in his latest mailbag:

"The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported this week that the Lakers have had internal discussions about possibly trading Russell Westbrook, but according to my sources around the NBA, the appetite for that player making $44 million this season and $47 million the next is low.
"Maybe a team with a playoff-hungry owner could convince themselves that Westbrook’s competitiveness would push their team into one of the top 10 spots in each conference and maybe past the play-in round. But would those teams want to send back the kinds of players in a trade that would help the Lakers win, weakening their own position to do so? Again, the chances of that are low."

On Wednesday, Amick reported on the Lakers' interest in trading Westbrook, noting the team's splits with him on and off the court before adding this note.

"All of which explains why sources say the Lakers showed some covert interest in discussing a possible Westbrook trade with rival executives earlier this season. A deal appears extremely unlikely before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, if only because his deal that was once seen by so many as untradeable is such a massive obstacle. But inside the Lakers, it seems, there is some recognition that this hasn’t gone as (James and Davis had) planned."

Westbrook, 33, is arguably having his worst statistical year since his 2008-09 rookie season.

Per Basketball-Reference, Westbrook's 15.9 player efficiency rating is his lowest mark since that year, when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His 109 defensive rating is also tied for the third-worst mark in his career.

FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR player evaluation system places Westbrook 227th in the league with a -0.4 WAR (wins above replacement). He has a negative 1.9 net rating, per NBA.com.

The nine-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion and 2016-17 NBA MVP is still very productive, as has been the case for his entire career. He's averaging 19.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game.

Westbrook has also helped filled the offensive production void with Anthony Davis and LeBron James both missing time due to injuries this year.

The Lakers are on a good run of late, winning their last three games and four of their last five to move over .500 at 20-19. Malik Monk has notably starred during that stretch, but Westbrook has fared better from the field by shooting 46.2 percent while averaging 18.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists.

Ultimately, it appears Westbrook will be in town at least through this season. It's been a rough start, but recent games show that the Lakers may have finally gotten out of the malaise that has affected them nearly all season.