While little is known publicly about the Lakers offseason plans, what is becoming abundantly clear is that little is settled internally about the Lakers offseason plans, too.
Earlier this week, the Lakers turned some heads and raised some eyebrows when a report from Sam Aick of The Athletic indicated the Lakers were asking coaching candidates how to utilize Russell Westbrook. It appeared to be an indication of which way the Lakers were leaning in the looming situation with Westbrook.
However, it may have also simply been part of due diligence by the Lakers.
A report from Dan Woike of the LA Times on Wednesday painted a different picture as executives in Chicago — where the NBA Draft Combine is taking place — have spoken about the uncertainty the team still seems to have with regards to Westbrook.
I’ve spoken with more than a handful of executives here in Chicago about the Lakers and Russell Westbrook, and there’s really no clarity in what the team is going to do. Most execs believe any Westbrook deal would require the Lakers sacrificing at least one future first, which is a hefty tax to pay with just a year left on his deal. Some think there might be a deal to be had where the Lakers simply take back long-term deals from other teams in exchange for more immediate cap relief.
But the only thing solid to report is that the Lakers haven’t ruled anything out when it comes to Westbrook’s future. They’ve definitely discussed him with potential coaches in their interview process. But that’s just one option. A trade is certainly still on the table, too.
It just seems like a complicated decision that the Lakers have yet to make.
Right now, there’s simply no reason for the Lakers to have made up their minds or to have rushed things. Westbrook can’t and won’t be traded until much, much closer to the NBA Draft, if even by then. With draft capital for this season unlikely to be included, the negotiations could stretch into July when the offseason begins.
With that time frame two months away, there’s no reason for decisions to have been made by now. A good front office would explore all of their options, especially in a time period where they’d be silly not to.
Then, once they hire a new coach and go through the whole process of gathering information on how teams value Russ as a trade asset, they can make a decision in the coming months. For now, though, expect more uncertainty and more fact-finding until the time to make a decision comes.