The Los Angeles Lakers hope their 2022-23 season will be much more successful than their 2021-22 season. At the center of everything for the Lakers has been Russell Westbrook. Will he be with the team? Will he not be with the team? Who knows. Whatever the case, Westbrook is still a member of the Lakers right now, and it sounds like the Lakers intend on having him on their roster for the upcoming season.
Both Beverley and Ham are excited about a Westbrook/Beverley backcourt
Westbrook's status in L.A. got thrown into further doubt when the Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz. Westbrook and Beverley have had beef in the past, and the addition of Beverley made it seem like Westbrook could be expendable. But at his introductory press conference, Beverley expressed excitement to play with Westbrook and believes that their gritty playstyles may help Los Angeles improve upon their disappointing previous season.
Lakers' first-year head coach Darvin Ham also spoke about Westbrook and Beverley and said he believes they can be L.A.'s starting backcourt duo, so long as they both play with their trademark hustle and tenacity. From the sounds of it, Ham is expecting both Westbrook and Beverley to be a part of the upcoming Lakers season.
Can the Lakers win with Westbrook on their roster?
This is certainly a departure from the rumors of an impending Westbrook trade that we have been hearing about all offseason long. The Lakers have been exploring trades for Westbrook since the end of last season and haven't been shy about it, either. Maybe this is an admission that they won't be able to trade Westbrook and his massive contract this offseason.
After all, it was reported that the only two teams interested in Westbrook were the Jazz and Indiana Pacers, and that would require the Lakers to give up their only two tradeable first-round picks to get rid of him. If that's a price the Lakers aren't willing to pay, it makes sense that they aren't going to trade Westbrook this off-season.
But with Westbrook now seemingly onboard for the upcoming season, it's worth wondering whether Los Angeles can win on the floor for them. Westbrook was horrible offensively last season, and his defensive production faltered too. Maybe adding another solid defensive player in Beverley will help Westbrook, but he may continue to struggle playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook's fit with the Lakers has never felt very natural, and that hasn't changed heading into the 2022-23 season. Maybe everything clicks after a down year, but it's tough to see how Westbrook can salvage his tenure in L.A. after such a poor start.