Despite a disappointing first year as teammates, the Los Angeles Lakers' Big 3 of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook are reportedly planning on sticking together for the 2022-23 season.
Per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the three superstars had a phone conversation "with each expressing their commitment to one another and vowing to make it work."
Westbrook, who is set to earn $47.1 million this season, has been the subject of trade speculation in recent weeks. He's been linked to a potential deal for Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, whom the Lakers have reportedly been pursuing in an effort to reunite James with his championship-winning teammate from their run together with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Haynes reported that "the uncertainty of Westbrook’s future with the Lakers remains," but the phone call "was organized to make sure all three were on the same page as long as they’re joined together in their pursuit of a championship."
Los Angeles was expected to compete for a title last year but instead struggled with chemistry issues and injury woes that resulted in a 33-49 record and an 11th-place finish in the Western Conference. Westbrook, James and Davis appeared in only 21 games together, as the latter two missed significant time throughout the year.
The Lakers hired Darvin Ham to replace Frank Vogel as head coach. The former Milwaukee Bucks assistant said during his introductory press conference that he expects Westbrook to play a big role on the team this year.
"Russ and I had some really, really great one-on-one convos, man, and the biggest word I think came out of that, those discussions, was 'sacrifice,'" Ham said. "I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career."
While a commitment to one another is a strong step forward, the Lakers weren't world-beaters last year with James, Westbrook and Davis on the floor together. Los Angeles has yet to prove it should be considered to be among elite teams in the West. It will take a commitment to defense and consistent effort for the Lakers to truly compete for a title this season.