Report: Teams still want 1st-round pick to take on Russell Westbrook’s contract

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

NBA teams reportedly still want a first-round pick from the Los Angeles Lakers to take on Russell Westbrook’s salary in any trade this season.

Westbrook is in the final season of his contract with the Lakers.

“Four months later, the market for Westbrook has largely been unchanged, according to league sources from rival teams,” the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike wrote. “The sense is any Westbrook trade probably would still require the Lakers to include a first-round pick to offset a team paying the rest of Westbrook’s $47 million salary.”

If the Lakers were to trade Westbrook ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline, they’d likely try to get a rotation player or two back in return. Therefore, it makes sense that a rival team would want to get some sort of draft compensation as well.

The former MVP has adjusted to a new role this season as the Lakers’ sixth man. However, there reportedly are concerns within the Lakers organization about Westbrook’s playoff viability.

With the Lakers sitting just three games back of the No. 4 seed Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference, the team should be looking to improve the roster for a playoff run.

Thursday night’s win over the Indiana Pacers moved the Lakers to 25-28 on the season, and they are the No. 12 seed in the West. However, things are so tight in the conference that Los Angeles could make a massive jump with a winning streak and a few other teams suffering losses.

Westbrook is averaging 15.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 28.1 percent from beyond the arc this season. The nine-time All-Star has had his ups and downs for the Lakers, and his shooting struggles make him a tough fit at times alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Lakers have to decide whether or not they are willing to deal a first-round pick to get rid of Westbrook this season and bring in some new pieces for the stretch run.

It’s a tricky situation since his contract is up at the end of the 2022-23 season, but the Lakers may decide moving on from Westbrook is the best way to maximize what has been another great season from James.

Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office have less than a week to make trades to improve the roster.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.