Lakers News: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook Could Reunite For Minicamp

James usually puts on a players-only minicamp ahead of team-sanctioned training camp.

Though there may be no love lost Los Angeles Lakers teammates Russell Westbrook and LeBron James, it appears that Westbrook would still be amenable to working out with James in an unofficial team minicamp, exclusive to players.

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Marc Stein writes on Substack that James annually organizes a minicamp “somewhere on the West Coast” ahead of the official start of the NBA season, and suggests that could be coming up soon this year as well. The Lakers’ season will official get underway with a team-sanctioned training camp on September 26th. 

It’s no secret that the Lakers have been interested in trading Westbrook’s expiring $47.1 million 2022-23 contract this summer. The club has apparently been reticent to include both its 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks in a deal. Reportedly, at least one of those picks would need to be included in any transaction for offloading the UCLA product, a nine-time All-Star who fell off in a huge way during L.A.’s miserable 2021-22 season, in which the 2020 champs slid all the way to a 33-49 record for the year and the 11th seed in the West.

After the Lakers traded disappointing 21-year-old wing Talen Horton-Tucker and tweener forward Stanley Johnson for veteran 3-and-D point guard Patrick Beverley, it appeared even more likely that Westbrook’s tenure with Los Angeles would be drawing to a close. 

The Lakers still have some intriguing potential trade partners on the board, should the team be open to meeting the price of doing business (the draft picks). The Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs, and Indiana Pacers all have veteran role players who could help L.A. now. Westbrook, in this writer’s estimation at least, is no longer an asset, especially on this particularly Lakers roster. It would be a waste of whatever remains of LeBron James at this level to subject him to another season with Westbrook clogging up the team’s offense and being a sieve on defense.

Stein notes that a minicamp between James, Westbrook, Beverley, and star forward Anthony Davis could help the team work out its internal grievances ahead of workouts under new head coach Darvin Ham later in the month. Beverley and Westbrook, who have had a very public dispute in years past before becoming teammates this summer, apparently have talked since the deal went down. Stein adds that the Lakers now apparently are reticent to shut down Westbrook and send him away from the team should a deal for the veteran point guard not get done in the coming weeks, though that had been considered a possibility immediately after the Beverley trade.

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