Russell Westbrook will exercise his player option and stay under contract for another season, guaranteeing a $47-million salary, sources told The Times.
Westbrook needed to make a decision whether to opt in or become an unrestricted free agent by Wednesday. The move was widely expected.
Westbrook posted a video of himself singing the chorus to Beyonce’s “Break My Soul,” repeatedly singing “You won’t break my soul” Tuesday morning.
After being acquired by the Lakers last offseason, Westbrook struggled, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists, all numbers below the standards he’s set for himself. The Lakers failed to make the playoffs.
The Lakers enter free agency Wednesday with just the taxpayer mid-level (worth about $6 million) and minimum contracts to fill out their roster around LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook.
New coach Darvin Ham said he viewed Westbrook as a key piece of the team’s immediate future during Ham’s introductory news conference.
“Russ and I had some really, really great one-on-one convos, man, and the biggest word I think came out of that, those discussions, was sacrifice. That was the biggest word, sacrifice,” Ham said. “We’re going to sacrifice whatever we got to do. And it’s not just Russ. It’s going to be sacrifices that LeBron has to make, that AD has to make, on down the line to the rest of our roster. Again, we have to start on the defensive end in terms of what his role is going to be.
“I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career. A lot of it now may have him without the ball in his hand. Most of it now may have it on the defensive end. But, again, we have to sacrifice.”
Westbrook attended that news conference.
The Lakers, who flirted with Kyrie Irving before Irving opted in to his deal on Monday, have explored Westbrook trades without success.