Surprising Twist In Latest Russell Westbrook Trade Rumor

We've been hearing about Russell Westbrook trade scenarios for months (a year?) now. Where will the Los Angeles Lakers be able to dump off his expiring $47M contract, and will they attach their two distant first-round picks (2027, 2029) in a package to get an impact player?

The thing is, since Westbrook moved to the second unit, his play—and his intensity—have improved immensely. Given this surprising change of fortune, we have this report on his trade status from Sam Amick of The Athletic: 

According to a source with knowledge of the Lakers’ plans, Westbrook’s play this past month has made it increasingly unlikely that he will be traded before the league’s Feb. 9 deadline. 

Since moving to the bench unit at the end of October, the 34-year-old has averaged 15.2 points, 7.9 assists, 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 turnovers and 28.2 minutes. Amick gives those numbers some context, pointing out that only Luka Dončić, Nikola Jokić, Ja Morant, Pascal Siakam, Jrue Holiday and James Harden have also gone 15-7-and-5 over that time span. 

He notes, therefore, that "the days of Westbrook being widely seen as the primary reason these Lakers have underperformed appear to be over. And that welcome development, it appears, has shifted the Lakers’ focus during trade season."

Still nearly two months until the trade deadline; a lot can still happen between now and then.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports