Should the Lakers cut Russell Westbrook if no trade materializes?
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham remains committed to Russell Westbrook.
And, by maintaining his loyalty to the team’s controversial point guard, Ham distances himself from the overwhelming majority of people who believe the team should get rid of Russ at all costs.
Ham has other ideas, according to NBA journalist Marc Stein, who writes: “If no trade involving Westbrook materializes and he is on the roster when the Lakers begin training on September 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains committed to giving Westbrook a real role.”
The puzzle was further complicated recently after the Lakers traded Patrick Beverley, whose longtime beef with Westbrook has been widely reported since the nine-time All-Star accused Beverley of recklessly injuring his meniscus. during a robbery attempt in 2013.
The Lakers were aware of the contempt the two shared when they executed the trade, but that didn’t stop them from bringing Beverley on board. In the mind of “Undisputed” co-host Skip Bayless, that’s another reason to end the Westbrook partnership as soon as possible.
“The best exit strategy from under him is to pay him off and send him home,” Bayless said in Monday’s episode. “Addition by subtraction. He’s virtually untradeable. … He won’t allow buyouts, he’s got too much pride. … The best way to improve the team is to just fire him.”
Bayless pointed out that while Westbrook was a valuable guard at one time, his effectiveness has diminished with age.
“He’s got the worst hands of any point guard I’ve ever seen,” Bayless said. “He was statistically the worst 3-point shooter in all of basketball, and he was the fourth-worst free throw shooter. … He led the league in turnovers per game until the last three when he snagged is sitting.”
“It’s hard to get over all of the above. It’s a volatile mix. … I just don’t know how you can find a real role. The translation of that is, ‘How can we hide Russell Westbrook for 20 minutes per game?’ Well, how do you hide it? I don’t know how.
Shannon Sharpe agreed with her co-host.
“The thing is, everyone knows the Lakers want to get rid of Russ,” Sharpe said. “[Teams] want those two draft picks, they don’t want Russ. They’re going to have to get assurances from Russ and his representatives that you’re getting bought out.”
Westbrook is poised to make the most money this season he has as a professional: $47.1 million, and that’s a huge reason why teams are cautious about starting negotiations for him. Additionally, the Lakers are reluctant to cut it because they would lose that cap space.
So can the Lakers find a suitable trade partner or will they find a way to hook him up with one of his biggest rivals? Neither option seems likely.
“Is Russ going to accept the role?” said Sharpe. “He’s the third-best player on the team. He won’t be the primary decision maker, he won’t be the primary ball handler, he won’t be the first or second scoring option. So what role is going to- Does he accept? He only sees himself as a younger version of himself. He doesn’t see the aging man.
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