UPDATE (03/06/22): After Vogel commented himself on the prospect of taking Westbrook out of the starting lineup following reporters’ questions about the idea, a report has come out from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski regarding the topic.
He had this to say on ESPN’s pregame show “NBA Countdown” right before the Lakers-Warriors game last night, with the quote being transcribed by Silver Screen & Roll’s Harrison Faigen:
“There’s been an increasing push within the Los Angeles Lakers, I’m told, both inside and outside the locker room, to demote nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook from the starting lineup. But so far head coach Frank Vogel has resisted that idea. Vogel still maintains that he believes there is an opportunity for Westbrook to make the kind of late-season charge with the Lakers that he did a year ago in Washington.”
We’ll see if Vogel ends up giving in to these anonymous Lakers’ urges for him to take Russ out of the starting lineup. Given the fact that it seems like Vogel’s days are numbered, maybe he doesn’t see the reasoning in deviating from his beliefs for an organization that’s ready to show him the door immediately when the season ends.
Either way, the continued discussion and reports around this idea continues to show just how much of a disaster the Westbrook acquisition has been.
Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers are going through it. Ever since the ink dried on the paperwork finalizing his acquisition, it’s been as bad as the lowest of believers could predict. The team is in the midst of a seven game losing streak. Any more losses and they’ll fall out of the play-in position and miss the playoffs.
Westbrook was suppose to be a big reason this possibility didn’t exist. He just came of a year’s average of a triple-double with the Washington Wizards, notching 22.2 points, 11.7 assists, and 11.5 rebounds. He’s since dropped to 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. The reduction in play and ill-fit has raised many questions, including bringing him off the bench.
Coach Frank Vogel spoke to the media about this possibility, per Lakers Nation Daniel Starkand:
Here’s the full quote. In short, Russ will continue to start for now. pic.twitter.com/wNekXrIw8e
— Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand) March 4, 2022
The last time Vogel benched Westbrook was in a Saturday night win against the New York Knicks. This was only a short time during the game’s ending. With the addition of D.J. Augustin, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibilities through their continued struggle.
No one would believe you if you said a former MVP and Olympian would be at a career crossroad with sufficient gas in their tank. That’s the case with Westbrook. His desire to come to his dream squad has been dampened by historic roster imbalance, mostly due to injuries. There’s also the short time on the floor that he’s spent with both LeBron James and Russell Westbrook.
The season continued to tick away. If the Lakers and Westbrook can’t come to a solution, then all the whispers will becoming shouting. He’s going into the final year of his deal next season, and the Lakers may move him. There’s also the possibility of Westbrook doing some soul-searching and evolving into a new player late in his career. It’s fair that we can ask ourselves though — is that even realistic?