The Los Angeles Lakers, who have struggled to recruit a marquee free agent for several years, could end the drought next summer with the acquisition of superstar point guard Russell Westbrook, according to a league source.
According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Lakers strongly believe that they have a shot at signing the perennial all-star next offseason. “The Lakers think they can sign (Westbrook). I was talking to some people, some executives yesterday about possible trades they might do, or offer, and I was told they think they can sign him as a free agent. So, why should they give up anything?”
Russell Westbrook: Kobe Bryant’s heir?
Westbrook grew up in Long Beach, California, and played collegiate basketball for UCLA. For several years, some of Lakers’ biggest celebrity fans including rapper Snoop Dogg have been trying to recruit Westbrook. While Westbrook hasn’t responded to any of those rumors, several insiders have claimed that the guard would love to take Kobe Bryant’s mantle as the next face of the franchise.
Incidentally, Broussard isn’t the only one who thinks Westbrook will land in L.A. David Thorpe, another ESPN insider, recently said: “L.A. is the likely destination for Westbrook, so the Lakers could just sit and wait a year (instead of trading for him).”
Should Lakers trade for him?
However, if the Lakers do trade for Westbrook, they would acquire his Bird Rights and be in a position to acquire him a five-year contract next season as opposed to a four-year deal.
“Having failed to even get a meeting with Durant, the Lakers might be willing to offer 2014 No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell as the centerpiece of a Westbrook trade, since Russell would probably be redundant if they signed Westbrook anyway,” Kevin Pelton wrote in an insider piece.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Thunder isn’t ruling out the possibility of trading Russell Westbrook. “If Westbrook chooses not to extend his contract this summer, multiple league executives told ESPN they believe the Thunder will consider fielding trade offers for Westbrook.”
Would it make sense for Lakers to wait a year and sign Russell Westbrook in free agency? Or should they sacrifice some of their young assets and acquire the superstar guard later this year?