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To no one’s surprise, Russell Westbrook exercises $47.1 million option with Lakers

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook's scoring average of 18.5 points last season was his lowest since 2009-10.Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is exercising his option to play for $47.1 million next season, a person with direct knowledge of the decision said Tuesday.

The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Westbrook — a past NBA MVP and one of the league’s top 75 all-time players — nor the Lakers revealed the decision publicly.

It certainly was not a surprise, considering Westbrook would not have commanded anywhere near $47.1 million had he chosen to become a free agent. He’ll turn 34 next season, his 15th in the NBA.

Westbrook had until Wednesday to make up his mind on the option, which will make this the fifth and final season of a $207 million contract he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The nine-time All-Star has been well-traveled since; he was traded to Houston in 2019, traded to Washington in 2020, and was moved to the Lakers in 2021.

That created what was supposed to be a great trio: Westbrook alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned. The Lakers were dogged by injuries all season, missed the playoffs, and fired coach Frank Vogel after the season, and Westbrook has taken much of the blame.

He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists in 78 games with the Lakers. Only four other players — two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver, James Harden of Philadelphia, Luka Doncic of Dallas, and Dejounte Murray of San Antonio — finished the season with higher averages than Westbrook had in those three stat categories.

But his scoring average was his lowest since 2009-10, and his 3-point percentage — 29.8 — ranked 251st out of 278 NBA players who attempted at least 100 shots from beyond the arc.

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Report: Knicks clearing up space

The Knicks are trading Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks to the Pistons, a person with knowledge of the details said, moves that free up nearly $20 million more for free agency.

Having already agreed to send Kemba Walker to the Pistons on draft night, the Knicks have shed nearly $30 million in salary for next season in advance of free agency opening Thursday night.

The person confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade would not become official Tuesday.

Burks, who replaced Walker in the starting lineup last season, is due to make $10 million next season. Noel, who battled injuries throughout the season, and Walker are both slated to earn slightly above $9 million.

The Knicks will take that shopping, with the Dallas Mavericks aware they have been eyeing guard Jalen Brunson.

Cavaliers extend qualifying offer to Sexton

The Cavaliers made the expected move and extended a qualifying offer to guard Collin Sexton, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

Sexton is now a restricted free agent, and the high-energy scorer could draw interest from other teams. If Sexton receives an offer sheet, the Cavs can match it.

What does the future hold for Collin Sexton?Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Teams can begin negotiating with free agents Thursday.

A first-round pick in 2018, Sexton played in just 11 games last season before tearing the meniscus in his right knee and undergoing surgery. The 23-year-old had been playing well and seemed to accept a lesser scoring role alongside All-Star Darius Garland.

Sexton averaged a career-best 24.3 points the previous season.

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