Report: “Impossible” for Lakers to bring Westbrook back next season given “current tension levels”

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The Russell Westbrook has been a bad chemistry experiment that’s brought out the fire extinguishers and blankets. What was touted as the yin to LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ yang has been a dud. Maybe it’s age that has been the culprit for Russ. Perhaps it’s the stature of the aforementioned James and Davis, with Westbrook having difficulty becoming comfortable amongst basketball giants?

The injuries suffered by both players work against that theory — in some ways. There’s not the fluidity or natural slotting into a “superstar” role when either is down. Westbrook produces, but the impact is not felt.  We’ve reached the point where next year is a huge question mark for Westbrook. His career, and the remaining time with the Lakers is not in the most favorable spot to continue.

Reports continue to indicate that the Lakers will find any way they can to move off of Westbrook’s impending player option for the 2022-23 season, with Marc Stein’s recent report on his substack being the most recent one to add to the list. In that report, he indicates the “current tension levels” make it seem “impossible” he will be back for the Lakers next season, with some interesting details as well regarding Westbrook butting heads with coaches and teammates.

“Jousting with reporters in press conferences is apparently not the lone source of pushback these days from under-fire guard Russell Westbrook. There has been no shortage of defiance behind the scenes, I’m told, when coaches and teammates have tried to broach changes in role or approach with the former MVP. For all the obvious complexities involved in trying to move Westbrook when he’s owed a whopping $47 million next season at age 34, one league source described the idea of bringing him back next season as “impossible” based on current tension levels. The question then becomes: If the Lakers can’t construct a palatable trade, do they try to just buy Westbrook out? Or waive and stretch him?”

This isn’t the only report of the Lakers making adjustments with Russ. They’ve gone back and forth on benching him per Frank Vogel himself. The fact that all of these nuggets are rearing their heads is not great. The Lakers spent a lot of assets to bring him to Los Angeles. Russ sacrificed a lot to get here. A divorce after one year will have effects on both sides that could very well disrupt their future. It’s going to be a rough summer for somebody. Our only hope is that the damage can be tolerated depending on who stands in the rush of impending changes

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