The idea of the Los Angeles Lakers landing both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in free agency isn’t so outlandish, especially with it continuing to spread like wildfire as more information about next summer emerges.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is the latest to pour a little gasoline on the situation after earlier in the season suggesting Durant had the Lakers at the top of his wish list. He recently visited the Mason and Ireland Show and dropped a rather large bombshell, suggesting Durant could join the Lakers this summer and Westbrook would follow the summer after:
Keep in mind this, one of the biggest reasons I’m told, that Kevin Durant may have the Lakers at the top of his list, is because the Lakers have been led to believe, by whom specifically I do not know, but the Lakers have been led to believe that it is a very good chance that the following year Russell Westbrook is coming.
Obviously the hosts met this with a splash of skepticism, especially when so many seem to believe the Durant-Westbrook relationship isn’t the most stable thing in the world and they might be better off without each other. But Smith contested this, confirming their relationship is great despite public perception and labeled the odds of the two teaming up with the Lakers in a few years a “big possibility.”
While this is all rumors and speculation at this point, it’s not hard to see the lines of logic. The Lakers are in the midst of their worst three-season stretch in franchise history. Sitting at just 9-40, the Lakers almost seem interested in tanking. Kobe Bryant is well into his retirement tour and coach Byron Scott seems to continue to shy away from the idea of playing his young guys in the efforts of building a better future. In doing so, the franchise better positions itself for a draft pick before potentially chasing big names such as Durant on the market.
It all seems to hinge on Durant. Will he abandon the small-market Oklahoma City Thunder, who currently sit a clear third behind the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference? There will obviously be more money in one of the biggest markets available, but it also means stepping into Bryant’s shadow, too.
Regardless, the Lakers look like a big winner here no matter what. The team has a nice core in place with Julius Randle down low and D’Angelo Russell on the point. Finding a way to add Durant, Westbrook or even both would be a huge caveat for a franchise that is clearly quite uncomfortable going through a traditional rebuild. And at the very least, the fact this is even a topic of discussion might signal the end of Los Angeles’ drought in free agency, where no big names seemed to want to deal with the rebuild and sharing the ball with Bryant.
With Bryant on his way out the door, these type of rumors won’t go away. Ditto for Durant on his way to the market and Westbrook primed to follow a year later, to what result nobody can guess. Out of all this, one thing is as clear as it gets—the Lakers will make sure they have enough cap space and hit the open market next summer with open arms. After all, this has been the plan all along.