The Los Angeles Lakers could make multiple, franchise-altering decisions during the 2022 NBA season.
Chief among them is the future of $47.1 million floor general Russell Westbrook, who appears like a prime summer trade candidate, but only if the front office is willing to make sacrifices in the exchange.
Those sacrifices—either subtracting draft picks or taking back bloated contracts (or both)—could be easier to make with a firmer grasp on LeBron James' future. He becomes extension-eligible in August, but without a new agreement, he's only signed through the 2022-23 campaign. The Lakers are not expected to get a commitment from James before the draft and free agency, per Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus.
Without that commitment, L.A.'s long-term outlook is as clear as mud. So how should the front office handle the Westbrook situation? We'll explore all sides of that question here.
The Pros of a Westbrook Deal
Westbrook is 33 years old and has more than 35,000 regular-season minutes under his belt, so it's possible his struggles this past season were tied mostly to natural decline.
However, his biggest issue in L.A. has been with fit. Frankly, his style doesn't suit this roster, and his salary doesn't work with the payroll.