With the trade deadline fast approaching, many believe the Lakers will offload Russell Westbrook before Thursday.
Even LeBron James was desperate to trade for Kyrie Irving and the Lakers offered up Westbrook as collateral but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes the organization should consider keeping the former MVP.
“I’m not moving Russell Westbrook,” Smith said. “Now, if there’s locker room issues that we don’t know about, I got you. What I’ve seen from Russell Westbrook on the court coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, how I see him cheering on his teammates when they do good things on the basketball court, I gotta tell you something. Listen, Russell Westbrook has taken a lot of hits over the years because people have intimated or leaned towards quote/unquote ‘selfishness’ and all of this other — that’s not what I’m seeing. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s not what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a brother that always plays, always plays a hundred percent, never cheats the game, and oh, by the way, by the way, he’s playing well coming off the bench.”
The 34-year-old is averaging 15.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game this season and with his $47.1 million contract he still most likely requires significant draft compensation in order to be moved. Maybe one unprotected first-round pick and or more.
As for the Lakers, they are 13th in the West on .463 but would need to win at least five more games to enter the playoffs.