In a move that surprised no one, the favorite whipping boy of Laker nation ,as well as the LeRichard riders in the media, Russell Westbrook opted in the $47 million player option.
Westbrook was acquired last season in a deal that confounded those with a modicum of basketball knowledge , who questioned the fit and how the skillset of the three Laker star would mesh. The most optimistic ( or delusional) Lakers fans and media arm of clutch sports had the the team, at minimum in the Western Conference Finals. The season turned out to be an unmitigated disaster and this highly touted team failed to qualify for even the play-in game. While Westbrook certainly had a role in this team falling flat on its collective face, he received a disproportional amount of the blame, ignoring the fact this was a team full of NBA geriatrics who were turnstiles and statues on defense, did not shhot the ball very well , nor ran an offensive system of any type or played in a way that put the players, save Lebron James, in a position to succeed. Nearly daily bloopers of his miscues, but oddly enough never for any other Laker, were played on sports throughout the season, feeding the narrative that this former MVP, 9-time-All-Stat, 9-time all-NBA performer and top 75 player was now a scrub, which was absurd.
Westbrook certainly did himself no favors with his level of play for a lot of the season the 18.5 ppg was the lowest since the 2009-10 season,, but that and the constant chatter all but ensure that he could or would command no where near the $47 million left on his current deal, making his opting a forgone conclusion.
However like the opting-in of Nets star Kyrie Irving, this decision keeps the possibility of a trade alive, but unlike with the case of Irving, the Lakers will have a much tougher time dealing their third sstar, and that task got even tougher with the John Wall buiyout and the likelihood of Bradely Beal signing a mx deal in Washington. Coupled with the Lakers insistence they will not include a future pick in any potential Westbrook, or engaging in a less-than-optimall trade, it seems that Westbrook and the Lakers may have to suffer together through another season of futility and fingerprinting.