Sports

Could LeBron James and Russell Westbrook Team Up After Las Vegas Workouts?

Las Vegas, a city without an NBA franchise, seems an unlikely setting for another superteam.

But some of the league’s elite talents are working out together in the Nevada desert this summer, forming a mix almost as intoxicating as the neon glare of the casinos on the Strip and the free-flowing alcohol.

There’s LeBron James, of course, half a country away from the ructions going on in Cleveland around Kyrie Irving’s demand for a trade. There’s Chris Paul, the Houston Rockets’ new point guard, and Eric Bledsloe, the Phoenix Suns point guard, a rumored trade target for the Cavaliers. Also there: Derrick Rose, a onetime MVP attempting to overcome debilitating injuries and win a championship alongside James.

And, oh, Russell Westbrook is present too. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, who scored at a historic rate last season by averaging a triple-double that won him the MVP award, is working out with James at the Vegas minicamp run by Cavaliers assistant coach Damon Jones.

Westbrook, remember, has yet to sign the “supermax” contract extension on the table for him from the Thunder. His current contract includes a player option for 2018-19, enabling him to test free agency next summer if he doesn’t extend with the Thunder this summer. Westbrook has a superstar to play alongside next season in Paul George. After that—until he signs the extension, at least—his future is unclear.

James, too, can become a free agent in summer 2018. Putting two and two together, the Big Lead wonders whether the seemingly impossible might actually happen and James and Westbrook find themselves on the same team next summer.

The argument would make a great Hollywood film script—an area, incidentally, in which James has business plans. Westbrook watched Kevin Durant walk away from the Thunder and win a championship with the already dominant Golden State Warriors. James, too, wants to take the Warriors down, having lost to them in the NBA Finals twice in three years.

How would this work? Could the Los Angeles Lakers, a rumored destination for James and George, accommodate Westbrook too? There’s an argument that Westbrook is better as a shooting guard, allowing Lonzo Ball to run the offense from point guard. That team would provide some incredible drama as its protagonists all wrestle over who gets to control the ball the most.

It’s all quite fantastical at this stage, but it is intriguing that Westbrook is in Vegas. Sin City seems like a good place to be a basketball-loving fly on the wall right now.

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