The first season of Russell Westbrook in Los Angeles didn’t go as expected. Brodie simply failed to connect with the rest of his teammates, making the Lakers wonder if they made a mistake in going after him.

Many believed the Lakers had seen enough to part with Westbrook this offseason, but training camp is edging closer and nothing has changed so far. In fact, it looks increasingly likely that Russ will continue to be a Laker this season.

Darvin Ham has already discussed how he plans to get the best out of him, while Jeanie Buss also spoke highly of Westbrook recently. The Jazz and Pacers were mentioned as possible trade suitors, but the Purple and Gold may have another idea.

Rumor: Lakers prefer not to trade Westbrook now because of long-term vision

Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic report that the Lakers prefer to wait until next season to have enough salary cap to add another star without giving up first-round draft picks:

"According to a high-level Lakers source, their refusal to do Westbrook deals with Indiana and Utah that have been discussed in various capacities for months has everything to do with this hopeful vision for their future beyond this season. In July 2023 the Lakers could not only be flushed with enough cash to add another maximum-salary-level player but also in possession of their first-round picks from 2027 and 2029.

"As it stands, the Lakers only have James ($46.9 million), Davis ($40.6 million) and rookie Max Christie ($1.7 million) under contract for the 2023-24 campaign. (Jones also has a player option worth $2.6 million.) With the salary cap projected to be $134 million, Los Angeles could create upwards of $30 million to $35 million or so in cap space. If their widely known interest in Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving isn’t satisfied via trade by then, Irving could reunite with James the easy way when he’s an unrestricted free agent. Other notable free agents could include Khris Middleton (player option), Fred VanVleet (player option), Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Herro (restricted) and Jordan Poole (restricted).

"Add in that retaining the first-round picks could open up all sorts of impactful opportunities on the trade market, and you start to see why there’s such a strong reluctance to make any moves that would hinder this plan."

Keeping the draft picks seemed to be what prevented Westbrook from being traded out of the Lakers by now. This optimistic vision for the future could pay off, but it could also mean that the team may have to endure yet another season without contending.