Russell Westbrook’s first season with the Los Angeles Lakers wasn’t a great experience for anyone. On the bright side, it might be his only season with the Lakers. Few anticipate Westbrook to still be on the roster by the time the 2022-23 basketball year rolls around and if this report from the Los Angeles Times is true, he likely won’t be.
Dan Woike and Broderick Turner offered some interesting tidbits about Westbrook, relating to head coach Frank Vogel and the rest of the Laker squad. They offer hints to why the former NBA MVP’s fit with the rest of the roster just didn’t work.
“Russell Westbrook never respected Frank [Vogel] from Day 1,” said one Lakers staff member with knowledge of the situation. “The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run.’
Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker)] We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik [Monk]. We have LeBron. We have AD. They can all bring the ball up.’ He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s***. Everybody get out the way.’ “From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”Dan Woike and Broderick Turner discussing Russell Westbrook’s 2021-22 season (H/t to NBCSports)
If true, if Westbrook really did insist on bringing the ball up the court, even late in the season when nothing went L.A.’s way, it’s a bad look for the nine-time NBA All-Star. There’s no reason not to try a different approach when times get tough. For Westbrook, the Lakers appeared to be a bad match from the start.
Once the trade deadline came up, it was already too late. The Lakers were stuck with Westbrook’s $44.2 million salary with no interested suitors. Sure, injuries to their stars, not having LeBron James and Anthony Davis for a combined 68 games played a major factor, but missing the play-in tournament altogether is an embarrassing showing for a team with three All-Stars in their starting five.