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Lakers Rumors: Russell Westbrook 'Very Open' to Trade, but Hasn't Asked for Deal

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2022

Russell Westbrook (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook reportedly remains "very open" to a potential trade ahead of the 2022-23 NBA season.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the update Friday during an appearance on The Lowe Post podcast (via HoopsHype).

"Russ is very open to a trade," Shelburne said. "He hasn't asked for a trade. I've been assured of that. But he's open to that, and somebody who wants him and wants to empower him and wants him to be Russell Westbrook of old."

The nine-time All-Star has been the focus of trade rumors throughout the summer, but the buzz has faded considerably since Kevin Durant rescinded his Brooklyn Nets trade request, which likely ensures Kyrie Irving will remain KD's running mate for another season.

Irving, who won a championship alongside the Lakers' LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, was always the most likely candidate to land in L.A. as part of what would have probably been a three-team blockbuster.

If he's staying put in Brooklyn, there isn't another obvious option on the free-agent or trade markets, which is why Los Angeles is now staring down another season with the James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis core that flamed out last year.

The Lakers missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record as LeBron and AD struggled with injuries while Russ endured a forgettable campaign. The 2016-17 NBA MVP ranked tied for 232nd out of 250 qualified players in FiveThirtyEight's WAR metric.

While a change of scenery would be best for both Westbrook and the Lakers, the cost of trying to move him is a significant hurdle.

L.A. has been steadfast in its desire to only move one first-round draft pick in a potential trade, but so far that hasn't yielded much interest from other teams.

Last week, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reported rival executives are seeking two first-rounders, one for taking on the last season of Westbrook's five-year, $206.8 million contract and another for the pieces of the return package heading to L.A.

New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has consistently expressed excitement about working with Russ, and that continued Tuesday while discussing how the backcourt is shaping up following the acquisition of Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz.

"They're both highly competitive human beings who want to win," Ham told reporters. "Give me 17 of those guys in my locker room like that. If we prepare the right way, I can guarantee you there'll be great results on the back end."

Ultimately, while the Lakers and Westbrook could both benefit from going their separate ways, each passing day makes it more likely he's in the team's lineup to open the new season in October.

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