Sources say the coaching staff made an unsuccessful push for Westbrook to be traded before the Feb. 10 deadline, when the Lakers passed on Houston’s John Wall, in part, because of the draft considerations that it would have required to make the deal. There were also significant concerns about the fact that Wall hadn’t played all season and, thus, didn’t instill confidence in his ability to help the Lakers turn their season around.
Yet now, it appears, the friction between Westbrook and the coaching staff has only grown worse. Sources confirmed the recent rising of tensions between Westbrook and the coaching staff, which were first reported by Marc Stein. If only for a night, Westbrook’s 20-point, four-assist, four-rebound, plus-13 outing against the Warriors on Saturday offered a reminder that he is capable of being part of the solution. But the performance was an outlier, to say the least.
Sources say Jackson, the Lakers legend and ex-fiancé of Buss, whose presence at Saturday’s win against Golden State was highlighted by the team’s Twitter account, has been in frequent contact with Buss about team matters all season long. The complicated and often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Westbrook situation, in particular, are known to have drawn his interest. As unofficial consultants go, they don’t get much more experienced or credible than Jackson. Truth be told, Buss’ desire to hear Jackson’s point of view on this team should surprise no one. Especially because of his close ties with Rambis, who — like Pelinka with Bryant — has the kind of close connection with Jackson that has long been considered a factor when it comes to his own stature.
Magic Johnson: "This [Westbrook] trade could down as the worst trade in Lakers history if we don't get out of the play-in game”. ￼
NBA on ESPN: Magic Johnson did not hold back on the state of the Lakers this season: “[Russell Westbrook] quit battling the press, take ownership and accountability. … I’m tired of excuses, it’s time to take ownership and say ‘I just been playing poorly’.”
Jousting with reporters in press conferences is apparently not the lone source of pushback these days from under-fire guard Russell Westbrook. There has been no shortage of defiance behind the scenes, I'm told, when coaches and teammates have tried to broach changes in role or approach with the former MVP. For all the obvious complexities involved in trying to move Westbrook when he's owed a whopping $47 million next season at age 34, one league source described the idea of bringing him back next season as "impossible" based on current tension levels. The question then becomes: If the Lakers can’t construct a palatable trade, do they try to just buy Westbrook out? Or waive and stretch him?
LeBron James was a strong advocate for the trade that brought Westbrook to Hollywood and thus has to wear his considerable slice of culpability for how poorly things are working out. Yet one source did point out at least one counter on James’ behalf, noting that he was also one of the organization's staunchest Alex Caruso fans and badly wanted the Lakers to re-sign the defensive-minded guard. The Lakers, despite all of their considerable revenue streams, refused to offer a contract on par with the four-year, $37 million deal Caruso landed from Chicago because of the luxury-tax implications. The injuries that have limited Davis to 37 games have done the most damage to the Lakers' 17th-ranked defense, but Caruso's departure was another big hit. 1:28
In any case, there is mutual interest in finding Westbrook a new home this summer, sources said. The Lakers' trade deadline discussions with the Houston Rockets for a potential Russell Westbrook-John Wall swap didn't generate significant traction, sources said, as the Lakers were resistant to including their 2027 first-round pick in any deal to offload Westbrook's salary. League observers have pointed to this offseason as a greater opportunity for the Lakers to shed Westbrook's contract, when they will be eligible to move their 2029 first-round pick.
Los Angeles' most realistic option may ultimately be stretching Westbrook's $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season. The Lakers have already shown a willingness to stretch Luol Deng's contract, which finally slips off Los Angeles' books this year, although that came under Mitch Kupchak's stewardship. Stretching Westbrook, according to the strategist, would drop the Lakers to merely $2.5 million above the salary cap, which would allow them to sign a rotation piece to the non-taxpayer mid-level, and another player to the bi-annual exception.
By Monday morning, Paul had spoken to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, with the latter of whom saying on “First Take” that the super agent wanted to deny one specific part of that report (emphasis mine): “Rich Paul called me yesterday and asked me to quote him on this story about him, and Klutch Sports, and essentially them wanting the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to Houston for John Wall. He wanted me to state emphatically that there was absolutely, positively no truth to that whatsoever. He never did that. He did not do that. The people who wrote the story never contacted him to get any kind of perspective from him on that. “It is an absolute lie, and he said ‘could you please do me a favor and quote me and tell the world that I specifically said that’s a damn lie. There is no truth. It never happened.’ Just for what it’s worth, that’s what Rich Paul says about these stories that have been put out there. Fair enough. So I quoted him.”
In the wake of the Lakers not executing a transaction before last week’s NBA trade deadline, ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne reported that the Lakers trio of Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James will likely being playing together again next year. “I’ve even heard this phrasing of this is probably going to be the roster next year too. A lot of the minimum contract guys will change, but I think this is what they got.”
It was previously reported that Houston wanted the Lakers 2027 first-round pick in exchange for taking on Westbrook's contract. ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne reported on an episode of the Hoop Collective that was not the case at the deadline. "The way I heard it was, it could've been done for a first round pick, but then, it was even suggested they could have done it for a pick swap. I don't know the details of what that swap would be like or how it would even work."
The Lakers were resistant to offering their 2027 first-round pick -- the only one they can offer -- in trade talks, including as the carrot in a potential exchange of John Wall and Russell Westbrook, sources say. A deal I'd have pitched: Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and that 2027 first-rounder for Wall and Eric Gordon. Does that change your life? Maybe not. But LeBron is 37, and this team looks broken. Maybe a better deal will come along in the offseason.
Zach Lowe: I heard the Lakers never really discussed wall for Westbrook because of the Houston demanding the pick.
The Houston Rockets offered the Los Angeles Lakers a deal that would have swapped John Wall for Russell Westbrook, but the Lakers declined to include a first-round pick, sources told Chris Haynes as he relayed on TNT Thursday evening. The discussion ended because of the refusal to include the draft pick, sources said.
For starters, sources said that despite some pressure from members of the coaching staff, the Lakers never gained traction on talks about a Russell Westbrook trade, leaving top basketball executive Rob Pelinka with room to operate only around the margins of the trade market.
As it turns out, fans are going to be a lot more disappointed given the recent report that the Lakers were working on a monster deal that would have sent Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and a future first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for John Wall and Christian Wood.
Kristian Winfield: Woj: "The Lakers right now don't have any ongoing discussions on a Russell Westbrook trade."
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said that Rob Pelinka understands the difficulty regarding trading Westbrook. The Lakers general manager will have to deal with his enormous contact and possibly attach picks, which he is reluctant to do. “With $47 million due [to] him next season, there’s just not a marketplace to do that. The Lakers have shown a real reluctance to incentivize a deal, meaning add draft picks to it. They have picks still going out in other deals.”
Ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers' disastrous loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, sources told B/R that L.A. was unlikely to trade Russell Westbrook at the deadline. The caveat: If LeBron James decides that fellow Klutch Sports client John Wall could be a better fit and is willing to push extremely hard for Westbrook's exit, the Lakers might consider a deal with the Houston Rockets.
Houston could be open to a trade if the Lakers also took on Daniel Theis' multiyear deal, but that's not attractive for Los Angeles given the boost in luxury tax and the team's desire to keep the books relatively clean for the 2023 offseason (when James' contract expires).
Jake Fischer: The way people talk in the NBA about Russell Westbrook as just being this damaged goods. I've pitched to Knicks people, you know, why not do the Evan Fournier for Julius Randle for stuff and you get off your long-term salary and clear your books for 2023 for free agency. Like everyone I've talked to you with the Knicks is they have zero interest in even entertaining the idea of doing that.
Sean Highkin: Frank Vogel, asked directly by @Bill Oram if there's a scenario in which Russell Westbrook isn't on the team after tomorrow: "If there's way to improve our team, we'll improve our team. I've got nothing else to say about the trade deadline."
Dave McMenamin: Russell Westbrook is out tonight with lower back tightness, per the Lakers. It will be the first game he has missed this season. LeBron James and Dwight Howard are both active.
Sources have indicated that the Lakers no longer believe they can win at a high level with Westbrook alongside James and Davis, but prior to Tuesday the line of thinking was that the Lakers would be unwilling to wave the white flag and admit their summer blockbuster was a failure. Instead, they would prefer to wait until the offseason, when they could also include a 2029 pick in a potential deal for another max-contract player looking for a new home.
Less than 48 hours before the trade deadline, James was echoing a sentiment that has spread throughout an increasingly dispirited Lakers organization. Sources told The Athletic that inside the locker room, players see and feel the same problems as everyone else, perhaps never more clearly than after a non-competitive loss to the champs. They understand as well as anyone that the personnel on this joyless 26-29 team simply isn’t working.
Either way, whether it is by Thursday’s deadline or in the summer, the Lakers know they need to find their way out of the Russell Westbrook business. One Lakers staffer who had reservations about the trade when it was made in July recently told The Athletic, “I didn’t think it would be this bad.”
“It’s obvious they’re trying to move Westbrook, which is damn-near impossible,” a league exec told Heavy.com. “They know that roster’s just not working.” Said another, “Russell plays hard and he’s always put up big numbers. But is he a winning player?”
For the second time this season, Russell Westbrook was benched by Lakers coach Frank Vogel to close out a game. Only this time, the Lakers won, beating the New York Knicks 122-115 in overtime on Saturday. And the result made all the difference to Westbrook in accepting the decision. "The best part of this game is that you win," Westbrook said after scoring five points on 1-for-10 shooting with six assists and four turnovers in 29 minutes. "Guys competed. We won the game and that's all that matters."
"That [fourth quarter] stretch was part of it," Vogel said of his decision-making process. "I think obviously Russ was having a tough night on both sides of the ball and Bron was really going. So I knew the ball was going to be in Bron's hands and I felt like we were going to get more from a defensive perspective and off-ball action with Talen, so ... you just make tough decisions in the spirit of whatever the team needs to win a game."
Harrison Faigen: Anthony Davis, on Laker fans booing Russell Westbrook. "The fans obviously want to see him play better... He's got to stay out of his own head, continue to play and do the little things."
However, Saturday his teammates lifted him up. "I just told him to text me later," James said of his postgame conversation with Westbrook. "I told him to keep going, to stop second-guessing himself during the game. There were a couple of times where he had good looks, second-guessed himself and a couple times where he had some drives and he had them and second-guessed himself. He's an instinctive player and he should never, what he's done in this league, he should never second-guess himself if he's put the work in -- and he's put the work in. So I just told him to just hit me later. "And I don't need to harp on what we need to say to him. I mean, he's a big-time player. And I have the utmost confidence in his ability, not only for this team but for himself, individually."
The Lakers, though, appear determined to stick with Westbrook through at least the rest of the season — which means holding onto their 2027 first-round draft pick for other potential trade opportunities League sources say that the Lakers, presented with an unexpected pathway to abort their Westbrook experiment by trading the NBA's 2017 Most Valuable Player back to the Rockets in exchange for former All-Star John Wall, are unwilling to attach the 2027 first-rounder to make the deal happen.
Yet there are also major optics concerns for the Lakers. Team officials, sources say, do not want to pay a premium to move on from Westbrook so soon after the Lakers gave up so much to get the Los Angeles native.
Barring the emergence of an expanded trade construction that involves three or more teams, or allows for a Westbrook-for-Wall exchange without including the precious draft pick, L.A.'s clear preference, sources say, is to bank on Westbrook finding another gear in the second half like he did for the Wizards last season.
Marc Spears: "I was told that they have a couple on the table, several on the table, but the only one that's really has some, you know, realistic potential to it is with the Lakers for Russ. They actually make, I don't know if it's nearly to the same dollar, but a similar salary, so you can trade them one-for-one without including anybody else. That 2027 Laker pick that you mentioned before, that first-round pick, seems to be pretty coveted, and I would expect it to be included in such a deal. But John's in Miami. He's been working out. He actually asked the Rockets for permission to be in Miami so he could be near his kids and focus on working out."
Marc Spears: "I've basically heard that there's a couple other possibilities, but they're more pie-in-the-sky possibilities, and it's not out of the realm of possibility for this one to happen. To me, I think that as of today, this is the only trade for John Wall. If it happens, and Westbrook does come back, the Rockets get somebody that at least they know.
Oklahoma City has the ability to generate $34 million in cap space, which would allow them to trade for just about any salary. They have enough cap space to take on a player like John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Tobias Harris and all they would need to send back is Derrick Favors. Their ability to spend in this trade deadline will likely be their final opportunity for them to facilitate salary dumps until at least the 2023 offseason when they are projected to have cap space.
I included a line in there about how the Rockets have zero interest in Westbrook actually playing for them again, but I didn't properly expound on the buyout that would be required after such a trade. Westbrook is owed $47 million next season. If the Lakers actually reached the point that they were willing to send their 2027 first-round pick to the Rockets to convince them to ship out John Wall and take Westbrook back, it is expected that Westbrook and Houston would swiftly enter buyout talks.
Buyout discussions with a player owed more than $50 million are never easy, but it is believed Houston would happily cope with that challenge if it could get the future first-rounder from the Lakers. Reason being: The Rockets, remember, are already facing the same conundrum. Wall is owed $47.4 million next season and hasn't logged one minute this season after he balked at the limited role Houston offered him.
I have been advised that I should amend my previous characterization of the Lakers' finding a Westbrook trade from outright impossible to extremely unlikely. There is at least one team out there that would take him, league sources say, if the conditions are right. That team, surprisingly, is the Houston Rockets.
I, like many around the league, was previously under the impression that the Rockets would have less than zero interest in a Westbrook reunion after Houston traded Westbrook to Washington for John Wall in December 2020 shortly before the start of last season. I've since learned that the Rockets — while indeed holding no interest in having Westbrook play for them again — actually would be amenable to another Westbrook-for-Wall swap if the Lakers incentivized the trade with sufficient draft compensation.
To be clear: This is not a scenario likely to materialize between now and Feb. 10 or one I would advise the Lakers to pursue so soon even after all of my criticism of the Westbrook trade in the first place. Yet sources say that the Lakers could convince Houston to take Westbrook back for Wall if they attached their 2027 first-round draft pick to the deal. The Lakers could naturally try to offer multiple second-round picks instead, but L.A.'s 2027 first-rounder is the piece rival teams naturally covet.
The team could try to trade Westbrook, but sources say the market is nonexistent. If he were in the final year of his deal, the Lakers might have a shot. But at this point, no other team wants to commit to paying Westbrook $47 million next season.
If the Westbrook move were fundamentally flawed, who is to blame? Rob Pelinka is the team's vice president of basketball operations and general manager. The decision ultimately falls on his resume. But sources also say that James was a significant proponent for getting Westbrook. Does he bear any responsibility if he and his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, applied significant pressure on the team to get it done?
So while the Lakers may have had second thoughts about this pairing, in other words, he has not. “No,” he said when asked if he had any regrets about the move. “Nah. I mean, not at all, because — like I told you — it’s bigger than basketball for me.”
“I never worry,” he fired back. “Do the job. Be professional. Every year, my name is in trade (rumors). It never, never, never seeps into how I approach what I do. It’s kind of what I was mentioning back there (during the press conference). I see this game so different (in terms of) how to use it to be able to impact things. “Regardless of if (a trade) did happen or if it didn’t happen, nothing’s going to change my mentality or my purpose. I feel like I have a purpose that’s bigger than basketball and I always keep that as my forefront regardless of what happens inside of pro sports.”
But we forget sometimes that executives are ultra-competitive in their professions as well, and it’s safe to say Morey has no interest in executing a bad deal because of pressure ever again. As an aside, sources say that’s also the reason the Sixers have zero interest in the prospect of swapping Simmons for Westbrook now and alleviating the Lakers’ fit concerns with their superstar trio.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported this week that the Lakers have had internal discussions about possibly trading Russell Westbrook, but according to my sources around the NBA, the appetite for that player making $44 million this season and $47 million the next is very low.
All of which explains why sources say the Lakers showed some covert interest in discussing a possible Westbrook trade with rival executives earlier this season. A deal appears extremely unlikely before the Feb. 15 trade deadline, if only because his deal that was once seen by so many as untradeable is such a massive obstacle. But inside the Lakers, it seems, there is some recognition that this hasn’t gone as (James and Davis had) planned
Jake Fischer: The only outgoing call I confirmed was to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons… When I got the information that they called about Ben, the conversation pretty much was, “We’re interested in Ben. How would we get there?” The obvious solution is Russell Westbrook. He’s not a player on that Sixers list that they have.
The trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook simply hasn’t blended as well as Lakers figures hoped, and Los Angeles has held internal discussions on trade scenarios for Russell Westbrook, league sources told B/R. But moving Westbrook and the two years, $91 million remaining on his contract does seem unlikely.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio’s salaries would match Westbrook’s pricey deal, reuniting James with a former championship counterpart. But that structure would have little interest from the Cavaliers’ side and has not yet been discussed by the two teams, sources said. Outside of Love’s large number, there are simply few players aside from John Wall, for whom Westbrook was traded to Washington last summer, who are available for trade and come close to Westbrook’s earnings.
The Wizards’ decision to trade Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason may have been in the best interest of the star point guard, but Washington GM Tommy Sheppard attests that Westbrook was “professional” and never demanded a trade from the team. “I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”
Fred Katz: Here is what the final version of the five-team trade looks like, according to sources: Seven players Rights to three more Draft picks Draft swaps 18 total trade pieces pic.twitter.com/6Uoy74XMcr
Bobby Marks: Here is what the 5 teamer looks like To WASH Kuzma KCP Harrell Dinwiddie A. Holiday Rights to I. Todd (#31) To LAL Westbook To BKN 2024 2nd 2025 2nd (right to swap with GSW or WAS) $11.5M Trade Exception To IND Rights to I. Jackson (#22) To SAS C. Hutchison 2022 2nd (WAS)
Bobby Marks: Because there is no salary incoming, Brooklyn does not have to match salary. The Dinwiddie money was added to Kuzma, KCP, Harrell, Holiday to match the Westbrook contract. $49.7M to WASH $44.1M to LAL That falls within 125%
Hearing the most likely outcome is that the Spencer Dinwiddie sign-and-trade becomes part of the Russell Westbrook trade. That would make it, at minimum, a four-team deal (Nets, Lakers, Wizards, Pacers) that includes a sign-and-trade, base-year compensation and the luxury-tax apron, and there may very well be a fifth team involved to drop off unwanted salary. Fasten your seat belts, cap guys; it's about to get crazy out there.
NBA Central: "Here's a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A." - Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis on Russell Westbrook 😯 (Via ESPN) pic.twitter.com/Mzen1eu9Aq
For weeks, Westbrook had been talking to Lakers star LeBron James about the possibility of playing together, sources said. They'd talk about working out together and how they'd push each other in the gym and on the court. Both are known around the NBA as insatiable workout guys who pride themselves on the condition they keep their bodies, and how early they get to the gym.
That morning, however, sources indicate Westbrook and Foucher called the Wizards to say that he was happy to play in Washington another two seasons, but if there was a trade with the Lakers that made sense for both franchises, he would welcome the chance to compete for a championship in his hometown.
Westbrook wanted to give Beal as much consideration as possible, talking throughout the offseason as they both mulled their futures with the team, sources said. But when reports about the Lakers' interest in Hield heated up, sources said Westbrook decided it was best to raise the possibility of a trade to the Wizards front office.
About two weeks ago, Russell Westbrook went to LeBron James’ home and together they and Anthony Davis had a conversation about the All-Star guard joining James and Davis on the Lakers. They talked about putting their egos aside and playing as one in their quest to bring the Lakers another NBA championship. Westbrook talked about how his only intention was winning and coming back home to Los Angeles to become a champion.
Westbrook had a growing desire to join James and Davis in Los Angeles to compete for a championship, sources said. He formally informed the Wizards of his desires recently, according to sources: if they could find a trade that works, Westbrook wanted to go to the Lakers.
Washington executed the deal with no issues from Beal, per sources. The three-time All-Star, who is entering the final season of his contract, has expressed no desire to leave the Wizards, according to sources. As speculation about his future has swirled, the team remains confident it can keep him for the long term. The Wizards can offer him a four-year, $180 million extension in October, but if he waits until 2022 free agency, he can sign a five-year contract for an estimated $235 million to return to Washington.
Stadium: "Sources tell me Beal right now has no desire to leave the Wizards." NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on Bradley Beal as the Lakers-Wizards work to complete Russell Westbrook trade, presented by @ATT 5G.
Chris Mannix: As others have noted, Westbrook deal not seen as a precursor to a Beal trade, per sources. Moving Westbrook creates future cap flexibility. Beal, of course, with a contract he can opt out of after next season, still wields a lot of power in this situation.
Fred Katz: The Lakers would be Russell Westbrook’s fourth team in as many seasons. 2018-19 with the Thunder, 2019-20 with the Rockets and 2020-21 with the Wizards. Each team change would come with Westbrook encouraging his way to a new destination.
Adrian Wojnarowski: This is a trade Washington wants to make with Bradley Beal in mind, creating some salary cap flexibility for the future to add talent around him, sources tell ESPN. The idea of returning to his Los Angeles roots has been appealing to Westbrook.
Bobby Marks: Salary implications on a proposed Westbrook trade: To LAL Russell Westbrook 2021/22- $44.2M 2022/23- $47.1M (P) To WAS Kyle Kuzma 2021/22- $13M 2022/23- $13M 2023/24- $13M (P) Montrezl Harrell 2021/22- $9.7M KCP 2021/22- $13M 2022/23- $14M ($4.9M guaranteed)
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Lakers are near a deal to acquire Washington's Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Lakers and Wizards are in serious talks on a Russell Westbrook trade to L.A., sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Westbrook has become the Lakers‘ primary focus. He would give them a dynamic playmaker alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Shams Charania: Just in: The Lakers and Wizards are engaged on a trade that would send Russell Westbrook to L.A., sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . Westbrook wants a move elsewhere and the Lakers are his preferred destination, sources said.
Shams Charania: The Lakers and Wizards are discussing a trade that would send Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for Westbrook, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . The Lakers' No. 22 pick in the Draft could be in play, too.
The Wizards, multiple sources have said, are aligning toward a full rebuild should Beal ask out. It’s not a coincidence that Bleacher Report reported that there have been preliminary talks between the Lakers and Wizards about a deal for Russell Westbrook, a deal that league sources said was increasingly likely as of Sunday night.
A sense around the league is that would be contingent on what Washington does with point guard Russell Westbrook. The source said Beal may consider leaving if the Wizards opt to trade Westbrook this summer. There have been some reports about the Lakers having interest in Westbrook.
Lastly, the Lakers rumors have not gone away. Los Angeles has been linked by multiple sources to having interest in attaining Russell Westbrook, although the cap gymnastics to acquire the 2017 MVP will surely be tricky. It remains clear that Los Angeles' main objective this offseason is to find an on-ball creator that can lessen the playmaking duties of LeBron James.
According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for a veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.
Following their blown 3-1 lead to Denver, executives around the league wondered if the Clippers might panic and do something rash, such as trade for Russell Westbrook. Instead, they’ve made minor tweaks to the roster and coaching staff, replacing Doc Rivers with his assistant, Ty Lue. These new faces might not be any better on paper, but the blend could work better on the court. It’ll take more time to find out.
However, the two sides were able to get a deal done Wednesday night and some of the credit can go to Westbrook's agent Thad Foucher. "The two general managers hadn't talked in weeks, but Russell Westbrook's agent Thad Foucher really got them back, got them talking to day and within a few hours, they had a deal," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski told Scott Van Pelt.
Unlike Houston’s rightful reluctance to trade Harden, the Rockets’ new front office searched far and wide for Westbrook destinations as soon as he expressed that he didn’t want to be there anymore, according to multiple league sources. Houston viewed Westbrook’s desire to leave as a blessing in disguise. Trading him provides another opportunity to make Harden happy again. Many members of the Rockets’ organization believe Harden doesn’t actually want to leave, he just wants to win a title. The Rockets need to prove to Harden they’re the franchise best suited to help him win one before his contract can expire in 2022.
Russell Westbrook was an All-NBA selection in 19-20, but he received very little trade interest as he sought a trade from the Houston Rockets. "There. Was. No. Market. For. Russell. Westbrook," said Zach Lowe on his podcast one day after the trade. "I kept saying this over and over again. The Clippers were not interested. The Knicks were not interested unless they were incentivized. I don't know where the Hornets noise came from. Maybe it was credible. All I can say is from the people I know there, I never heard they were interested. There was, to my knowledge, nothing."
Trade discussions with the Hornets ended once it became apparent they’d select LaMelo Ball in the draft, and interest from the Knicks eventually fizzled, league sources say. That left the Wizards, a franchise dealing with its own challenges involving another polarizing point guard making over $40 million per year.
Michael C. Wright: Stephen Silas said he hasn't talked to James Harden since the Westbrook trade. "When stuff like this kind of happens, I kind of take a step back and allow guys some space. That's kind of where it's been as far as my communication with him."
August 13, 2022 | 9:32 pm EDT Update
Draymond Green: That’s the power of your voice Young! Let’s goooo! Bring the fam to the crib for dinner after
USA Basketball has picked its 12-man roster for the opening second-round window of World Cup qualifying, as the Americans look to move closer to clinching a spot in the field for next year’s event. Jim Boylen will return as coach, assisted again by Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.
The roster will include six players — Michael Frazier II, Langston Galloway, David Stockton, DaQuan Jeffries, John Jenkins and Eric Mika — who were with the Americans for the previous qualifying window in July. The other six players for games Aug. 25 in Las Vegas against Uruguay and at Colombia on Aug. 29 are Tyler Cavanaugh, Malik Ellison, Dewan Hernandez, Mac McClung, Robert Woodard II and McKinley Wright IV.
August 13, 2022 | 7:37 pm EDT Update
The Warriors can pass on an extension for Poole if they choose, allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer. If he gets there, one league executive speculates that we can expect at least one team with cap space to be ready to pounce. “I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports.
“LeBron James has not done enough as a Laker to be on that list,” Jefferson said. “Bron been there now — this is his fourth season, right? They’ve been in there four seasons. Two years, they haven’t made the postseason. One year, they lost in the first round. And one year, they won a championship.”
Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week, league sources tell me. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.Substack.com
August 13, 2022 | 5:50 pm EDT Update
“It was just like a shock, but not too much of a shock,” Will Barton said when asked his reaction to the trade. “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”