The Los Angeles Lakers are down bad. Russell Westbrook is down bad.
The situation is starting to boil over after the Lakers’ loss last night at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. The final score was 131-116 in a game where the Bucks consistently held a 20-point lead with the deficit reaching as high as 30 at points in the 3rd quarter. LeBron James was playing at the start of the 4th quarter, with Anthony Davis coming in shortly after. The Lakers were able to trim the Bucks’ lead to 10 with 5:05 remaining, with the comeback prompting Frank Vogel to put LeBron back in after he had taken him out earlier. However, Westbrook never started the 4th quarter, and he was never brought back in to help the team try and make its comeback.
It resulted in Westbrook not playing a single 4th quarter minute, just three days after he was held out of the entire overtime of the Lakers’ win against the Knicks.
After the game, a smirking Westbrook seemed to take multiple shots at Vogel’s handling of his playing time (h/t Harrison Faigen and Silver Screen & Roll):
(On frequent starting lineup changes)
“You never know when you’re coming in, you never know when you’re coming out. You never know when you’re playing, you never know… a bunch of things. And I’m speaking for me personally, so it’s a difficult process to be able to figure out and create some rhythm and some consistency where we can actually see what we’re able to do as a team, but those decisions are made by him and the coaching staff, and you’ve got to live with it and move on.”
(On what benchmarks he has to hit to be in the closing lineup more consistently)
Who? Me? I don’t have that answer for you brother. I wish I did. I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmark, to be honest. I’ve put a lot of work in. I’ve got a lot of respect in this game. I don’t have to hit a benchmark. Or I shouldn’t have to. I earned the right to be in closing linueps. I mean, numbers will tell you. I don’t have to explain that. But once again, that ain’t my decision.”
You can see Westbrook’s full comments in the video below.
"I told [AD and LeBron] I wish I could help them. Unfortunately, I wasn't in the game to help…that's not my call." Russell Westbrook addresses the media following tonight's 131-116 #Lakers loss. @LakersReporter pic.twitter.com/LJXE0tMCi6
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 9, 2022
Russ trying to cheer up LeBron and AD after a tough loss to the Bucks ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xhD8MXqfKM
— ESPN (@espn) February 9, 2022
Westbrook was also asked about the video above, a clip that caught a somewhat awkward exchange between a very disgruntled LeBron and Anthony Davis with an encouraging Westbrook trying to pick up their spirits. Russ was asked what happened in that moment, taking another opportunity to take a shot at Vogel.
“Just giving them some encouragement, just telling them “keep playing. Tough night.” And I told them I wished I could help them. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the game to be able to help them, and that’s why I came here: To help them out.”
With the Thursday afternoon trade deadline quickly approaching, one has to wonder that Westbrook’s public digs at Vogel may cause the Lakers to put up the white flag and try and move him to a different team. Of course, the Lakers are not going to find many suitors for his contract which includes a $47 million player option for the 2022-23 season, an option that Westbrook is basically guaranteed to take. There’s only been one reported suitor that may take on his contract, and that’s the Houston Rockets.
It would be a terrible deal for the Lakers as Marc Stein reports they’d have to bring in the aging John Wall while also giving the Rockets their 2027 first-round pick. But given how toxic this situation seems at the moment, a Westbrook trade — or a Frank Vogel firing — seems somewhat likely.
Anyways, the Lakers play a game tonight against the Trail Blazers! That should be fun! Right?!