Lakers Rumors: LA 'Comfortable' With Russell Westbrook on Roster During Camp

Adam WellsSeptember 2, 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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As rumors continue to swirl about Russell Westbrook's future, the Los Angeles Lakers aren't necessarily looking to rush a trade involving the former NBA MVP.

Per Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers "are comfortable" going into training camp with Westbrook because the hope is first-year head coach Darvin Ham "can unlock increased intensity on defense while another season with James and Davis makes life easier on offense."

Woike also noted the Utah Jazz's decision to trade Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers could impact how the Lakers handle things with Westbrook.

"Either the Lakers up their offers in pursuit of a trade centered on Myles Turner and (Buddy) Hield in Indiana or they turn their sights back to the Jazz to try and pick the bones of a former contender thrust into a rebuild," Woike wrote.

The Jazz and Lakers aren't afraid to do business with each other. They worked out a deal on Aug. 25 to send Patrick Beverley to Los Angeles in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.

A deal with the Pacers involving Westbrook could be more difficult to pull off following the Beverley trade. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype noted Indiana was seeking Horton-Tucker, along with the Lakers' 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, for Turner, Hield and Daniel Theis.

The word coming from Los Angeles this offseason has been positive about what Westbrook can contribute to the team in 2022-23. NBA insider Marc Stein reported this week in his Substack newsletter that Ham has spoken to Westbrook and Beverley about lineups with both of them on the court together.

Lakers governor Jeanie Buss told The Athletic's Sam Amick that Westbrook was their "best player" last season. She later clarified the comment, noting "the word I should have used was ‘consistent,'" to describe his performance.

All of this could just be noise coming from the Lakers in an attempt to convince opposing teams they aren't actively shopping Westbrook. But they might not be looking to make a deal that requires them to give up either of those future picks. Otherwise, the only first-rounders they will own for the rest of the decade are in 2026 and 2028.

Westbrook is owed $47.1 million this season, the final year of his current contract. The nine-time All-Star averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in 78 starts last season.