Lakers Rumors: Russell Westbrook Not Viewed as 'Useful Player' by NBA Scouts, Execs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 14, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

After wrapping up the worst season of his NBA career, the knives are coming out for Los Angeles Lakers star Russell Westbrook.

It's clear that Westbrook's best days are behind him, but the Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike painted an especially unflattering portrait of the nine-time All-Star as it pertains to his trade value:

"Basically, when sending out a player like Westbrook in a trade, expecting perfect fits in return is impossible. It’s functionally trading one set of problems for another.

"To other teams, Westbrook represented a one-year problem on the books as a way to erase long-term commitments to other players. Some scouts and executives around the league don’t view Westbrook as a useful player at this stage, especially with a nearly $50 million price tag."

Player efficiency rating isn't the best way to evaluate a player's performance, yet it feels fitting that Westbrook's PER in 2021-22 was exactly average (15.0), per Basketball Reference.

The 33-year-old had his moments this past season, such as a 33-point, 10-rebound, eight-assist effort in a victory over the San Antonio Spurs in October.

But Westbrook continued his decline, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting under 30 percent from three-point range for the fourth time in five seasons.

Speaking with reporters upon the end of the Lakers' season, he lamented how he didn't get to be his usual self in L.A.

Kyle Goon @kylegoon

When <a href="https://twitter.com/DanWoikeSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DanWoikeSports</a> mentions that LeBron and AD said many times throughout the year, "Let Russ be Russ," Russell Westbrook immediately responds: "Yeah, but that wasn't true. Let's be honest."

Kyle Goon @kylegoon

Russell Westbrook said "top to bottom" on coming to L.A.: I just felt like I was never given a fair chance to be who I needed to be to help this team.

And that's true to a degree because his 27.3 percent usage rate was his lowest since 2009-10, his second season in the league.

The dilemma for the Lakers was that letting "Russ be Russ" probably wouldn't have served the greater good. Los Angeles was 2.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the bench, per NBA.com, and five of his six highest individual game scores came in defeats.

When Westbrook joined the Lakers, the thought was that he'd be a floor-raiser for the team, especially when LeBron James or Anthony Davis would need to rest or given the occasional night off. In 2020-21, he helped lift the Washington Wizards to the playoffs.

Now, Westbrook's stock is at its nadir. He's no longer a good No. 1 offensive option and probably can't be the No. 2 guy on a team with postseason aspirations, either.

Because he's such a poor shooter, Westbrook may not even be afforded that late-career renaissance when he remakes himself into a veteran specialist a la Vince Carter or even Jason Terry.

To say Westbrook isn't "useful" anymore is a bit of a stretch because he remains capable of dropping a triple-double on any night. Nevertheless, it's difficult to envision a lot of contenders will be lining up to acquire him this summer.