Sources: Russell Westbrook to exercise $47 million option to remain with Los Angeles Lakers

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As expected, given the financials involved, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook will exercise the $47.1 million option on the final year of his contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Westbrook's deal has been a depreciating asset since he signed it in the months after his 2017 NBA MVP campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The nine-time All-Star has been traded to the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards and Lakers over the past three years. The 33-year-old's career-high averages of 31.6 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per game dipped to a 19-7-7 for the 11th-place Lakers last season.

The Lakers also spent much of this past year trying to find a trade partner for Westbrook's massive contract to no avail. They will continue to shop his deal now that it is expiring, but attaching future first-round picks compounds the problem of finding teams capable of matching so much salary in a swap. The Lakers want value in return for Westbrook, and that may be impossible to find for a $47 million replacement-level player.

Westbrook has won a single playoff series in five appearances since his partnership with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City came to an end in 2016. Westbrook's high-usage, low-efficiency brand of basketball has yielded little more than a middling record alongside James Harden, Bradley Beal and LeBron James over the past three seasons, leading to questions about where he might find success as he enters his mid-30s.

Westbrook's contributions to the Lakers' underwhelming 2021-22 season played a part in the firing of Frank Vogel, who coached James and Anthony Davis to a championship in 2020. Westbrook attended new Lakers coach Darvin Ham's introductory press conference earlier this month, and Ham repaid the respect publicly.

"Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen and still has a ton left in that tank," said Ham, even as he asked Westbrook to "sacrifice" his game. "I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off."

Ham stressed the need for Westbrook to contribute defensively and hinted at the possibility of bringing him off the bench. Westbrook's inability to do the former and/or unwillingness to do the latter could potentially create similar friction for Ham as Vogel experienced when attempting to curb a one-time MVP's influence.

Freedom to be the player Westbrook believes himself still to be was not worth him foregoing $47.1 million and testing the free-agent market to see if any other team would be willing to let him cook for a far lower salary. The Lakers and Westbrook made their bed in last summer's blockbuster trade, and now they have to lie in it for one more season, unless a miracle trade partner arises before his contract comes to its end.

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