Lakers want Russell Westbrook to become a defense-first player next season

The Los Angeles Lakers aim to give superstar guard Russell Westbrook a different role next season, in case he remains with the team.

More specifically, the Lakers want Westbrook to become a defense-first player, as the franchise will rely on defense to return to title contention next season.

“Rob Pelinka says he and Davin Ham have had multiple meetings with Russell Westbrook and have been honest about Russ’ role on the team and that he needs to be a defense-first player.

He says Westbrook has yet to make a final decision on his player option for the 2022-23 season,” Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports.

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Russell Westbrook has until late next week to make a decision on his future with the franchise and pick up his player option, worth $47.1M. If he declines it, though, he will immediately become a free agent.

With the Lakers being among the teams interested in Kyrie Irving, Westbrook could leave Los Angeles via a sign-and-trade deal even if he picks up his player option.

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