NBA insider predicts there’s ‘pretty good chance’ 2022-23 season will be Russell Westbrook’s last in league

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read

The struggling start by Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has one NBA insider projecting that the former MVP will be out of the league next season.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated appeared recently on “The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz” and said that Westbrook’s inability or refusal to adapt his game could lead to the end of his NBA career.

“You can say to Russ, ‘Look you went to Houston,'” Mannix said. “‘It didn’t work. You went to Washington. It didn’t work. Last season in L.A. It didn’t work.’ You can show him that there’s plenty of reasons why he should change, but he just won’t do it. And as long as he’s being this obstinate, there’s a pretty good chance we’re looking at the last season of Russell Westbrook’s career.”

Mannix believes that even if the Lakers manage to trade Westbrook, his new team won’t keep him for long.

“Whoever acquires Westbrook in a trade, whether it’s Utah [Jazz] or Indiana [Pacers], Charlotte [Hornets] has been mentioned as a possibility because of Gordon Hayward and his contract, they’re not keeping him,” Mannix said. “If Utah acquired Russell Westbrook tomorrow, they would waive him or send him home. He would never play a game for the Utah Jazz. He would never play a game for the Indiana Pacers. They’re not acquiring Russell Westbrook the player. They’re acquiring the multiple draft picks that will come with him and the contract that will come off the books next season. If Russell Westbrook doesn’t play for the Lakers this season, he’s not going to play anywhere.”

Westbrook has played in four of the Lakers’ five games this season and has scored in double figures three times. However, with the Lakers having dropped all five of those contests, his contributions haven’t helped the struggling team.

Debate over whether Westbrook should be coming off the bench has been an underlying controversy in the early going of this season. Westbrook started the Lakers’ first three games, but then came off the bench in Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Lakers could consider releasing Westbrook, but the final season of his contract is bearing down on the team’s front office. Westbrook is making $47.1 million this season, making any release a financially painful one.

Day and Night

The current situation is light years away from the scenario that the Lakers and Westbrook envisioned when he was acquired last year.

At the time, Westbrook’s addition was seen as a huge boost to the Lakers’ championship hopes. Instead, his chemistry issues with the team and key injuries resulted in the team failing to even reach the postseason.

Westbrook turns 34 next month and negotiating his next contract will undoubtedly force him to take a huge cut in pay for next season and beyond.

In his heyday, Westbrook’s knack for averaging triple-doubles helped earn him a massive contract. Yet, like many aging players, his skills have shown a decline in recent years.

Acknowledging that fact and being more amenable to being used in a reserve role may end up being the only way that Westbrook stays in the league next season.

For now, Westbrook and the Lakers are simply trying to enter the win column. Their next opportunity will come in the opener of a four-game homestand, when they take on the Denver Nuggets at Arena.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.