Report: Lakers think they can sign Russell Westbrook next summer

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The Thunder reportedly aren’t looking to trade Russell Westbrook right now.

One speculated suitor — the Lakers — doesn’t seem interested, anyway.

Chris Broussard of ESPN on MSG:

The Lakers think they can sign him. And I was talking to some executives yesterday about possible trades they might do or offer. And I was told they think they can sign him as a free agent, so why should they give up anything?

The Lakers also thought they’d sign Dwight Howard in 2013, Carmelo Anthony in 2014, Kevin Durant in 2016…

But the larger point remains: The Lakers shouldn’t break up their talented young core — D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Brandan Ingram and Julius Randle — in a trade for Westbrook.

If he wants to play for the Lakers in 2017-18, Westbrook will get to Los Angeles. If he doesn’t, he’ll sign elsewhere.

Keeping the team’s most valuable players will only make the Lakers look more appealing to Westbrook next summer. I suspect that outweighs Westbrook’s incumbent team’s ability to offer higher raises and a fifth season on a new contract.

Spending the upcoming season with the Lakers, who look ill-equipped to win now, might even turn Westbrook off to the Lakers.

It’d be devastating to trade valuable assets for Westbrook then lose him a year later. Better just to wait to add him as a free agent — even if the Lakers are probably overblowing their odds of signing him.