Lakers Rumors: LA Expected to Start 'Canvassing' for Russell Westbrook Trades Again

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVOctober 14, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 9: Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors on October 9, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Russell Westbrook's exit from Los Angeles may be coming sooner than later.

Fresh off news the guard will come off the bench Friday night for the Lakers' final preseason game, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers are expected to ramp up trade talks again for the 2017 NBA MVP.

"The Lakers, at some point here, will start engaging teams again on possible Russell Westbrook trades," Wojnarowski said (two-minute mark). "They paused it essentially at the start of training camp. Typically, it gets a little quiet as teams are putting their rosters together, making their cuts and then seeing what it looks like playing preseason games.

Certainly, there's an opportunity for Russell Westbrook to get integrated with this group and that second unit it seems, but I think ultimately the Lakers—still armed with those two future first-round picks and Westbrook's expiring contract—would like to go out and improve this team, certainly before the trade deadline. I think you can expect them to start canvassing again at some point once the regular season starts."

The Lakers spent the offseason saying all the right things, with management and coach Darvin Ham saying they were hopeful Westbrook would have a bounce-back season. It seems they've already shifted gears, with the nine-time All-Star looking slotted for a full-time reserve role for the first time in his career.

Friday's shift to the bench comes after Westbrook started his first three preseason appearances, looking largely listless every step of the way. He was limited to five points, four assists and three rebounds while playing 25 minutes in Wednesday's 118-113 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

As fans and media continue watching his every move, Westbrook had to answer questions as videos of him seemingly refusing to join in huddles with his teammates went viral. These controversies were made up—Westbrook was simply following a career-long pregame ritual for the first huddle and then talking to coaches for the second—but they're instructive of how laser-focused people are on his every move.

The best endgame for the Lakers and healthiest move for Westbrook has long been a trade. His skill set was always a terrible fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and moving him to the second unit won't suddenly be a fix.

James and Davis are going to play 35 minutes per night. There are 48 minutes in an NBA game. Unless the Lakers plan on cutting Westbrook down to 13 minutes, they're going to share the floor pretty regularly—and the same issues that presented themselves a year ago will continue cropping up.

What's more, Westbrook became borderline reviled by Lakers fans last season for his play. They're not going to be shy about booing him at every turn until a deal is made.

Lakers management deserves criticism for continually attempting to mash square pegs into round holes and then being perplexed at why their toy set falls apart.