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The Lakers Had ‘Covert Interest’ In Discussing A Russell Westbrook Trade, But It’s ‘Extremely Unlikely’ One Happens

The Los Angeles Lakers are in a fight to get a top-6 spot in the Western Conference and avoid the play-in tournament for the second year in a row. As of today, the team sits 20-19, which puts them in seventh place and jostling with two other teams — the Denver Nuggets and the Dallas Mavericks — that are all 10.5 games behind the 1-seed.

While Anthony Davis is out with a sprained MCL, the team has struggled to meet its lofty expectations even when everyone is on the floor. Their paths to getting better via a trade are limited, as Davis and LeBron James are presumably untouchable and the roster possesses a ton of guys on minimum deals. Still, there are a handful of guys who Los Angeles could try to trade, and according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the franchise did its due diligence in trying to find a trade for the most high-profile of the bunch.

Amick reports that the Lakers made some calls about a potential deal involving offseason acquisition Russell Westbrook, but it does not sound like anything got too far off the ground.

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.

It had been reported earlier this season that L.A. discussed a trade for the former league MVP internally, but nothing beyond that. Westbrook only has one year remaining on his contract after the 2021-22 campaign, as he has a player option for next season that will pay him a little more than $47 million. It is worth mentioning that he’s been traded three times since it with into effect with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018 — first to the Houston Rockets, then to the Washington Wizards, and then to the Lakers — but it’s hard to imagine a trade where the Lakers could turn him into a player who can help without having to move other potential trade chips, like Talen Horton-Tucker or Kendrick Nunn.

On the year, Westbrook has averaged 19.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.1 assists in 35.8 minutes per game, and is one of two Lakers players who have suited up in every game this season.