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Lakers would still prefer to trade Russell Westbrook

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As the Los Angeles Lakers move forward in their search for a new head coach, it has been reported that they have been asking coaching candidates how they would use and maximize Russell Westbrook.

It seemed to indicate that perhaps the team had done an about-face on deciding to trade him this summer.

That type of thinking among fans seemed to become even stronger when Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times said that Phil Jackson, the former Lakers head coach whom owner Jeanie Buss is reportedly leaning on for advice, would prefer keeping Westbrook and trading LeBron James.

However, according to NBA insider Marc Stein, L.A. still fully plans to at least explore trading Westbrook.

Via Lakers Nation:

“One Russell Westbrook trade note: While the Lakers have indeed asked coaches they’ve interviewed in recent weeks how they would manage a roster that still features Westbrook, that’s not to say L.A. has already decided to bring the former All-Star guard back for the final season remaining (at a tidy $47 million) on his current contract. The Lakers won’t rule that out, because they would naturally prefer to avoid trades that require them to inject a future first-round pick to push the deal through, but they also know that the fresh-start atmosphere they hope to create when training camp begins in September will be extremely difficult to foster if Westbrook is still on the roster. I, for one, still struggle to imagine a scenario where Westbrook starts next season as a Laker — even if that means releasing him or trying to hash out some sort of buyout.”

A fresh start seems especially attractive after a season in which it seemed Murphy’s Law was in full effect from the first day of training camp.

Westbrook reportedly didn’t get along with teammates or the team’s coaching staff, and it is hard to imagine anyone with any pull on the team vouching for the 2017 league MVP.

However, if the Lakers are unable to consummate a halfway palatable trade involving Westbrook, and if their new coach, as well as James, both want Westbrook around and believe they can make it work with him, perhaps he will be in the Purple and Gold come opening night this fall.

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