Russell Westbrook Trade Rumors: Lakers Have Training Camp as 'Soft Deadline' for Deal

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 5, 2022

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - APRIL 05: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the first half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on April 05, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, 
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The NBA draft is long over and the height of free agency has passed, but a few remaining items must be ironed out on the Association's 2022 offseason front.

Namely, there's still the question of where Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, who has been the subject of trade rumors for months, will be playing next season.

That's still unclear, but a report by Jovan Buha of The Athletic indicated a potential timeline:

"Now, to the second question, there will come a time in which the Lakers have to decide if they’re willing to continue to play hardball and risk missing their window to trade Westbrook. There is a sense among some that training camp is a soft deadline to move Westbrook. If he’s on the roster in late September, there will be a massive off-court distraction, with the media asking about his future, his relationship with [LeBron] James and the organization, [new head coach Darvin] Ham’s vision of his role and responsibilities."

Westbrook, who exercised his $47.1 million player option for the 2022-23 season, averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in his first year with L.A.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Lakers, Utah Jazz and New York Knicks discussed a three-team trade that would have involved Westbrook.

Notably, Westbrook would have gone to the Jazz, who would have bought out the remainder of his contract. Star Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell would have gone to the Knicks, among other player and pick movements. The Lakers and Knicks would have needed to give up some draft capital to Utah in the move as well.

That obviously never happened, and now training camp is just one month away.

Westbrook, who was also connected to the Brooklyn Nets in trade talks involving guard Kyrie Irving, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, is still a Laker. If he does stick in town, he'll try to help the Lakers rebound from a bitterly disappointing 33-49 season two years removed from an NBA title.

Injuries to stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis left L.A. short-handed, and the team rotated through a bunch of different lineups as the Lakers were unable to form much chemistry. Better health and a full offseason together could certainly help bring about brighter days in L.A., though, even if Westbrook is coming off a down year.

He's still two years removed from averaging a triple-double with the Washington Wizards and can certainly resemble something closer to that form in 2022-23.

The regular season will open on Oct. 19.