NBA 2022: Russell Westbrook trade rumours, Los Angeles Lakers, Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, news

The Los Angeles Lakers have a $AUD70 million dollar headache hanging overhead and his name is Russell Westbrook.

Trade rumours have been circling the 2017 MVP winner like sharks when they smell blood in the water and they’re not going away anytime soon.

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Throughout the entirety of the NBA off-season Westbrook was heavily rumoured to be departing Los Angeles with the franchise looking to build a better roster around LeBron James.

Westbrook is owed an absurd salary for the 2022/23 season, hamstringing the Lakers abilities to build around James and Anthony Davis.

After an off-season where many believed Westbrook’s value had hit an all-time low, the star guard has turned things around in recent weeks.

A shift to a bench role has revitalised the triple-double beast and provided a much needed spark to the dire Lakers season.

Westbrook’s acceptance of his new role after months of reluctance has proven he can be a valuable asset to a contending team off the bench.

“Russ needs to keep this up and everybody is going to be on body language watch, words watch, scale of 1-10 how surly are the press conferences watch – all of that stuff,” Locked on Lakers’ Andy Kamenetzky said.

“It’s likely going to be one of those things where a team may ask for permission to talk to Russ or his agent. You’re going to want to find out … was this he’s in LA trying for whatever reason make it work with this team, because he wanted to save face with the Lakers?

“Or has ‘Russ’ bought into this as a career path moving forward, or if nothing else, on a competitive team this season.

“Because if you really feel the intel is solid that the intel is yes, then yeah, Russ may have actually increased his practical trade value around the league.

“The way he’s playing right now, he could help any team in the league as a bench player.”

The Lakers have reportedly held discussions with the Indiana Pacers in a package that would send Myles Turner and Buddy to Los Angeles, talks were also held with the Utah Jazz but after surprising starts those talks haven’t gone any further.

One move the Lakers could be eyeing off centres around a 10-year star who has a heap of upside and would fit better alongside James and Davis.

“A star player whom the Lakers are known to covet is Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal,” Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes wrote.

“Going after the 10-year veteran would only be an option if Beal were to request a trade, a tactic he has been reluctant to exercise.”

The Lakers have been linked with Beal previously with The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor revealing the franchise wanted to send Westbrook and two picks to the Wizards for Beal.

Beal signed a supermax extension in July, worth a gargantuan $AUD379 million, with a no-trade clause in the contract.

It means only Beal can request a trade away from the Wizards and can also determine where he wants to go.

The larger question however is why would Beal want to leave the currently 6-6 Wizards, sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference, to join the 2-9 Lakers who are second last in the Western Conference.

The Wizards, as exciting as they’ve been in the early stages of the season, aren’t a bonafide contender and while the Lakers aren’t either the move to Los Angeles would help boost Beal’s star and open up even bigger avenues to add to his bank account.

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