Russell Westbrook, a free agent next year, is most likely to be traded at some point this year, if not before the February trade deadline.
Sam Presti, general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, does not have too much leverage in trade discussions since Westbrook’s suitor would require a verbal assurance on whether or not the athletic guard intends to re-sign in free agency next summer.
Russell Westbrook controls his destiny…
Kevin O’Connor, a beat writer for the Boston Celtics, reported earlier this week that Westbrook and the Thunder won’t be forced into any trade. “No team is going to pay a hefty price without getting a commitment from Westbrook. Someone may pay a cheaper price without a commitment, but OKC probably doesn’t do a deal like that,” a league source told SB Nation.
“Russ is in control of the situation. Not any team. He controls his destiny. But if a team is going to get him, they need a long-term commitment,” added O’Connor.
Thunder would likely prefer trading Westbrook to either the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics since they prefer younger assets to rebuild the team around.
According to Basketball Insiders’ Jabari Davis, very few general mangers would be willing to give away young assets for Westbrook due to the risk of losing him next year. “Unless a GM is willing to take a total flyer and empty out his resources with only a rental season guaranteed, the eight-year-veteran point guard would still hypothetically be able to choose his most desired landing spot.”
Lakers face dilemma…
In recent weeks, several analysts have opined that the Lakers would be Westbrook’s preferred destination, either via trade this year or free agency next summer. If the Lakers could get Westbrook via free agency, why would they waste precious assets to get him? It’s not like they are expected to make the playoffs anyway.
The Lakers can’t trade Jordan Clarkson until December 14 due to the three-month trade restriction. Realistically, they could trade D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. However, there is little chance that they part with Brandon Ingram, the No.2 pick in this year’s draft, seeing as the fan base is very high on the Duke standout.
Should the Lakers take a gamble on Russell Westbrook? Or should they just wait until next July?