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Russell Westbrook Trade Rumors: Hornets a 'Team to Watch' in Market for Lakers Star

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Russell Westbrook could be on the move from the Los Angeles Lakers in the upcoming offseason, and the Charlotte Hornets are reportedly a potential destination.

NBA insider Marc Stein (h/t NBA Central) reported Thursday the Hornets are a "team to watch" as a trade partner for the Lakers.

Westbrook has a player option on his contract for 2022-23 that would pay him more than $47 million next season.

Whether Westbrook remains in Los Angeles will be one of the biggest storylines of the offseason. 

He was an awkward fit alongside James, another ball-dominant player, and his outside shooting struggles continued with a 29.8 percent clip from three-point range.

His 18.5 points per game is also his lowest mark since his second season in the league in 2009-10.

If another team does come calling for Westbrook, it will likely choose to believe his performance this season was caused by his situation rather than a decline in talent.

The 33-year-old is one of the best players of his generation with a resume that includes a league MVP award, nine All-NBA honors, two scoring titles, three assist titles, nine All-Star selections and a spot on the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team.

Perhaps a change of scenery will help him rediscover that form, and the Hornets are a fringe contender that could use a veteran presence as they look to take the next step in the Eastern Conference.

With LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges leading the way, they are 40-39 and preparing for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament as the No. 10 seed.

Westbrook could provide some star power and will surely be motivated next season as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing campaign for the Lakers.