Russell Westbrook’s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers seems like his last. It doesn’t seem like the Lakers will have a strong market for him of they look for a trade, as he played poorly his season for an underachieving team. The Charlotte Hornets may swoop in to trade for him and they have a clear vision of how they could help them.
Westbrook’s contract is the reason for their interest in the aging star. According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Hornets are emerging as an option for him so that they can add more financial flexibility.
Charlotte has been increasingly mentioned by league insiders as a team to watch on the Westbrook front.
All-Star guard LaMelo Ball is firmly ensconced as the Hornets’ face of the franchise and on-the-ball star, but one scenario making the rounds is a belief that the Hornets could emerge with Westbrook interest in the name of creating some financial flexibility.
The Hornets’ salary books aren’t in horrible shape yet but could use some more flexibility. They have to extend Miles Bridges this offseason and will be paying him the big bucks after his breakout season. The injury-prone Gordon Hayward will be making $30 million in each of the next two seasons and Terry Rozier has a big contract extension that will kick in after this season. Although Hayward is now back in action, his injury history can’t be ignored.
Westbrook is only on the books for one more season. He has a player option worth $47 million for next season that he will likely take. A contract like that could easily free up cap space, though the Hornets may have to give up some key talent in order to do so.