Report: Teams have been 'demanding' inclusion of 1st-round pick to take on Russell Westbrook's contract - Lakers Daily

Report: Teams have been ‘demanding’ inclusion of 1st-round pick to take on Russell Westbrook’s contract

Russell Westbrook Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have a major decision to make this offseason with guard Russell Westbrook, who has a player option for the 2022-23 season.

Westbrook and the Lakers failed to make the playoffs in the 2021-22 season, and the team may decide to trade him this coming offseason. However, it’s going to come at a price for Los Angeles.

“Teams have been demanding the inclusion of at least one first-round pick to take on Westbrook’s massive expiring contract, according to league sources,” The Athletic’s Jovan Buha wrote. “Rival teams know how much of a public trainwreck last season was for the Lakers, and they’re not looking to do Los Angeles any favors by helping them off of Westbrook’s contract.”

During the 2021-22 season, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from beyond the arc.

However, he never really meshed with LeBron James or the rest of the roster, and it led to the Lakers taking a major step back in the 2021-22 campaign.

The Lakers’ struggles weren’t all Westbrook’s fault, as James and star forward Anthony Davis both missed significant time in the 2021-22 season due to injury.

With Westbrook expected to make north of $47 million on his player option next season, the Lakers are going to have a hard time finding a team willing to take on Westbrook’s deal without something else coming back.

The Lakers could try to flip Westbrook for another undesirable contract, but that wouldn’t help the team compete for a title in the 2022-23 season. Instead, the Lakers may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice a future asset or two to move Westbrook and chase a title with James still on the roster and playing at an elite level.