It's free agency time, and the rumor mill is churning out various bits of insanity. Today, in a ESPN article examining the Lakers' free agent allure, there was a very interesting passage concerning Russell Westbrook:
"They don't have the same pull, but they do have the city, weather and off-the-court appeal," one executive said. "Also, Kobe is only there for a short time, then you can be the face of the team."
Said another executive: "The Lakers will always be a huge draw. They will be fine regardless. While losing Howard was not planned, they will still be in on anyone."
And said another executive: "They just need one big guy to go there, and the rest will follow. I expect [Russell] Westbrook and [James] Harden to join forces there when they become free. It definitely still has allure. It's still L.A., and they are still the Lakers. No free agent can question whether or not they will spend the money to win titles."
Obviously this is nothing more than opinion. But every NBA executive is well read on the league and tendencies of players, so this opinion should be taken somewhat seriously. Obviously, Westbrook and Harden have played together before. From 2009-2012, Harden and Westbrook were part of the Thunder's backcourt.
But what's worth noting is that Harden and Westbrook didn't play alongside each other too much. Obviously it would happen in clutch situations, as well as periodically throughout the game. But the starting shooting guard spot was filled by the defense-first Thabo Sefolosha. This was done to make up for Harden and Westbrook's lapses in defensive concentration, as well as the Thunder's lack of scoring off of the bench.
A Harden-Westbrook backcourt is certainly viable, even if it lacks defensive teeth. It's also worth noting that the Harden-Westbrook Thunder thrived on turning defense into offense, so their combined 4 steals a game would definitely excite Laker fans.
Still, at the end of the day, Westbrook has been nothing but loyal to the Thunder so far. And there's no telling what Westbrook and Harden can achieve on their current teams over the next couple of years. Let's just hope that this executive is full of nothing but hot air.
Does this rumor have credence? Drop a comment and let us know!