The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo explains why Russell Westbrook playing in any capacity for LA is worse than him sitting out the season.
The song of the summer for Lakers fans has been Russell Westbrook trade rumors. Ever since the Lakers 49-loss season ended, there’s been scores of rumors and reports about potential trades Rob Pelinka and the front office have explored for Westbrook. As of Monday afternoon, none of them have come to fruition.
In a recent episode of his podcast, The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo re-emphasized his belief that Westbrook playing for the Lakers this coming year is the worst case scenario, but did note that he understands why the front office would be resistant to trading two future first-round picks in order to ship him out of town.
“Westbrook coming back, in any version that you think he’s coming back in with the Lakers, is worse than him not playing. That’s how bad of a fit he is with the Lakers and really, how bad of a fit I think he is in a million different scenarios.”
Westbrook’s stubborn attitude is what propelled him to becoming a superstar with Oklahoma City and that same mentality is the reason he’s been able to succeed in less ball-dominant roles in recent years.
Russillo, like many NBA intellectuals, noted Westbrook’s stubborn nature and applauded the Lakers brass and Darvin Ham for their Russ P.R. tour, but isn’t buying that the franchise is content simply run it back with Russ, a 38-year-old LeBron James, and an injury-prone Anthony Davis.
“Westbrook is not going to change. I think Darvin Ham is saying the things you have to say as a head coach. They’re the right things, I don’t believe any of them.”
If the Lakers are unwilling to burn their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in a hypothetical Westbrook trade, they could be in for another nightmare of a season.
“The other part of the conversation is what are the other options? Bring Westbrook back because of some friendly quotes from the front office and coaching staff? That doesn’t seem like a very good bet.”
The Lakers don’t open training camp until October and there will continue to be endless chatter about Westbrook’s future on the Lakers.