Every time the Lakers appear to have reached rock bottom this season, they find they can dig a bit deeper, most recently getting blown out on national TV by the Milwaukee Bucks. That result prompted LeBron James to say he doesn’t see how the Lakers can get on the Bucks level this season, and numerous reports to emerge out of the locker room that they are of the belief that this team cannot compete at anywhere close to a championship level, no matter how healthy they are, this season.
That’s not exactly shocking news for anyone who has watched much of the Lakers this season, but players are usually the last to realize (or at least admit) that they aren’t capable of winning. With the trade deadline looming, that has only further fueled the idea that Russell Westbrook, who was held out of the closing rotation once again on Tuesday night, might be on the block as he has simply not fit what the Lakers need next to LeBron and Anthony Davis and often seems to be actively hurting the team’s chances of winning.
Inside the organization there seem to be two camps regarding Westbrook, based on the reporting that’s emerged recently, even if just about everyone agrees this isn’t working. The first is that they can’t move him at the trade deadline even if they probably should pull the rip cord, because they just can’t admit defeat on such a massive trade so soon after making it. The other, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin noted on Wednesday night’s SportsCenter, is ready to “rip the Band-Aid off” and try to make a Westbrook trade in the next 20 hours.
Well then there’s this 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/rCztnxqfJf
— ╰☆☆ ʲẸ𝓷ᑎ𝕚 ☆☆╮ (@BrowBronBrodie) February 9, 2022
The problem, of course, is that trading Westbrook requires a team to want to trade for him. Finding that team is incredibly difficult, unless the Lakers want to run back last year’s Wizards-Rockets trade of John Wall for Russell Westbrook (and sending out their 2027 pick), or simply seeking out a place willing to eat a large chunk Westbrook’s salary along with a first round pick (having already given one of those up to get him) — say, in OKC for a homecoming. That seems to be about the list of suitors for Westbrook as of right now, but maybe the Lakers can find something a bit more palatable by Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
If they don’t, it’s hard to see any way this team comes back from this point to become a contender again this season, if for no other reason than it’s been about a month straight of leaks about how people internally don’t believe in Westbrook.