The start of Los Angeles Lakers training camp is only one week away. On Sept. 27, they'll begin preparing for the 2022-23 campaign, which they hope will end in better fashion after they missed the playoffs last season.
If the Lakers hope to fare better, they'll likely need improved play from Russell Westbrook. That is, if the 33-year-old point guard is on the team all season.
There have been trade rumors circulating about Westbrook all summer, and those haven't stopped even with training camp on the horizon. For now, Westbrook is still in Los Angeles. But will that still be the case by June?
According to L.J. Ellis of Spurs Talk, the Lakers are "telling teams that they will take a wait and see approach to trading Westbrook as training camp approaches," per a Western Conference scout. If Los Angeles decides to move Westbrook, there's at least one interested team.
"If the Lakers decide to trade Westbrook at some point down the line, the Spurs remain one of the few teams in the league open to such a deal," Ellis wrote.
But that doesn't mean anything is imminent. In fact, Ellis reported that the Lakers and Spurs are "no longer engaged in active talks," as Los Angeles was more interested in previous offers it received from the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz.
When Los Angeles and San Antonio were having discussions, the Lakers were going to send "multiple draft picks" to the Spurs, according to Ellis.
That's not a surprise, as Los Angeles would need to include draft capital in any potential Westbrook trade because of the size of his contract. He's set to make $47.06 million during the upcoming season before hitting free agency next summer.
Although neither Westbrook nor the Lakers performed quite as well as expected last season, there's reason to think they'll be better this year. Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn't get a ton of court time together due to injuries, so that trio never got a great opportunity to jell.
It may be worth it for Los Angeles to give that group another try. During training camp, it could become apparent whether this trio is in a better position to lead the team to success this season.
So the Lakers are likely making the right decision in waiting to see how things unfold a bit before heavily pursuing a potential Westbrook trade again. But it'd be best to either commit to Westbrook or deal him before the regular season arrives.
If Los Angeles wants to trade Westbrook after the season begins, it'd likely be because he and the team are struggling and his value will have dropped further.
Plus, Westbrook may be less likely to succeed if he thinks there's a possibility of getting traded. He could feel more comfortable if the Lakers express that he's part of their season-long plan, so that may lead to better results all around.
For now, there's nothing wrong with keeping Westbrook around and trying to get more out of him and their superstar trio this upcoming season.