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NBA Rumors: Lakers Hesitant to Trade Russell Westbrook Due to Concerns over Future

Erin WalshSeptember 16, 2022

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers remain hesitant to trade veteran point guard Russell Westbrook, and it's reportedly because they don't want to sacrifice much of their future in order to move him.

If the Purple and Gold want to trade Westbrook, they'll almost certainly have to part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks to do so.

Those two picks will be two huge factors in the team's future, and a "high-level Lakers source" told The Athletic's Sam Amick and Jovan Buha that the Purple and Gold's refusal to trade Westbrook stems from concerns about their future should they lose those assets.

"Imagine itโ€™s July 2023, and the Lakers are not only flush with enough free-agency cash to add another maximum-salary-level player but also in possession of their first-round picks from 2027 and 2029. ... According to a high-level Lakers source, their refusal to do Westbrook deals with Indiana and Utah that have been discussed in various capacities for months has everything to do with this hopeful vision for their future beyond this season.

"As uncomfortable as this Westbrook experience has been โ€” and might yet still be โ€” this best-case scenario outlook is the driving force behind their surprising choice to pass up chances to part ways with Westbrook. In the absence of a deal they truly believe returns them to title-contender status, sources say, Westbrook is highly likely to remain."

Westbrook will become a free agent after the 2022-23 campaign. So, it's a little more reasonable for the team to keep him on board for one more season, regardless of how painful it may be, than sacrifice sustained success in the future.

Westbrook had a tough first season in L.A., averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 games while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 29.8 percent from deep.

However, there's always a possibility he turns things around in 2022-23 to help the Purple and Gold finish better than they did last season when they finished 11th in the Western Conference and missed the postseason.

In addition, the Lakers have also added reinforcements behind Westbrook should he fail to live up to expectations.

The team acquired Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz last month in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson and signed Dennis Schrรถder to a one-year, $2.64 million deal on Friday.

Both players are solid depth options and would have no problem stepping into a starting role if needed.

The Purple and Gold's future beyond Westbrook is exciting, and it will be even better if they can retain those two first-round draft picks to either use in a blockbuster trade or to draft marquee prospects.

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