It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers have been trying to trade Russell Westbrook, dating back to the trade deadline of last season. His lone season in purple and gold yielded disappointing results, both from a player perspective for Westbrook, who struggled to fit into a new role with the Lakers, and from a team viewpoint, as L.A. missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record.
While unloading Westbrook hasn’t been an easy task for the Lakers, one potential trade that has popped up since free agency started is shipping the former MVP to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a deal that would send Kyrie Irving to the Lakers. Irving experienced his most success playing alongside LeBron James when the two were on the Cavaliers, and the Lakers hope that the two former teammates, along with Anthony Davis, could rekindle that chemistry in hopes of competing for a championship again. However, recent reports suggest that there’s been no traction in a deal that would swap the two polarizing guards.
Trade rumors aside though, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is doing his best to dodge the trade fodder and remain positive about his current roster.
“We love everyone on our roster,” Ham said during the Lakers’ Summer League game Friday night. “And until you’re not on our roster, you’re ours, and we’re going to try to get better with our group. That’s just the bottom line of it.”
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This is a similar tone that Ham spoke with during his introductory press conference in June when he was announced as the Lakers’ next head coach. He spoke highly of Westbrook, James and Davis, despite Westbrook’s name constantly being mentioned in trade rumors. While Ham didn’t mention Westbrook’s name specifically on Friday, he echoed the same message that he did back in June about trade rumors and doing the best with what he has at his disposal.
“I don’t know a player that’s come through this league in my 26 years that hasn’t had their name part of a trade rumor a time or two,” Ham said. “But, it is what it is. It’s the nature of the beast of our business. And so, again, the guys we have on our roster I’m very thankful for, I’m proud of and we want to maximize everything they can do to help us get to that ultimate goal.”
While there may not be any traction on a Westbrook for Irving deal right now, that could change over the course of the summer. Everything in the league is currently held up by Kevin Durant’s trade request from the Nets, and once that gets sorted out, perhaps we’ll see Westbrook on a new team. Until then, though, he’s still a member of the Lakers and if he does start the season in purple and gold, the team will have to figure out how to right the wrongs from last season with largely the same roster.