Lakers bench Russell Westbrook in OT

Lakers bench Russell Westbrook in OT

The very good information for the Los Angeles Lakers is the Los Angeles Lakers received on Saturday.

They had been down by as substantially as 21 points to the New York Knicks, authorized 71 details in the 1st 50 {f8f9f7e6fa72495c30ab254213729fbbad6cff923a9c63d260c5c902274d4d9d} and necessary 40 minutes from LeBron James in his initially game back again from a knee problem to escape, but they received. And simply because they received, they prevented a longer path in their inevitable journey back again to .500, which has been the move of their entire year.

Even with that gain, Russell Westbrook, the team’s huge acquisition past summer time, the player who was meant to set the staff back again on major in the West and be the latest star to obtain achievement together with James, nonetheless drew scrutiny.

In fact, the Lakers can only hope Saturday is the very low point for Westbrook, since you did not want his seemingly weekly appointment as Twitter’s most criticized basketball player to see a brutal night time for a player who could be charitably described as polarizing.

Russell Westbrook’s bad, terrible night time

There was, of class, his stats. 5 factors on 1-of-10 taking pictures, with six helps, 4 rebounds and 4 turnovers. The Lakers were being outscored by 15 points when he was on the court docket, even though outscoring the Knicks by 12 factors when James was on the court docket.

There was the Staples Centre Arena crowd locating a way to shift earlier your regular booing of a player owning a chilly stretch, as took place when Westbrook in some way managed to skip the rim on a mid-selection financial institution shot.

No, the greater indicator of just how very little Lakers fans think of Westbrook at this position came in the last minutes of regulation, when Westbrook obtained the ball in the corner while holding a six-level lead. As the veteran squared up to shoot, a number of enthusiasts could be heard audibly wincing, like a film theater group looking at a teen enter a monster’s lair.

Westbrook missed the ensuing 3-issue shot, but experienced Anthony Davis preserve the working day with a rebound and set-back again and-1.

And worst of all — even worse than his box rating, even worse than the fan’s cure of him — there was Lakers head mentor Frank Vogel displaying what he thought of Westbrook’s engage in by preserving him on the bench for the entirety of time beyond regulation.

The postgame interviews had been what you would count on, with Westbrook brushing off the boos and the benching whilst his teammates affirm their assist for him, but it was tricky to overlook the actuality of the problem. Vogel just desires him to engage in much better.

It is at this place you could take into consideration what the Lakers gave up for a participant they evidently no for a longer period have confidence in to participate in in the most important minutes of the activity.

In trading for him, they gave up Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, two big contributors to their 2020 championship workforce, furthermore Montrezl Harrell and a to start with-round draft select. They also compensated the opportunity value of not heading following other gamers, like, say, Buddy Hield. And now they are shelling out Westbrook $44 million this year and are on the hook for $42 million additional next year really should he physical exercise his player selection.

All of that sacrifice, and they now require him to perform improved.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 30:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after their 129-121 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on January 30, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook hasn’t been what the Lakers were hoping. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Photos)

The Lakers have to have to determine out what they want from Russell Westbrook

What is astounding is all of this was predictable.

Westbrook has lengthy been a lightning rod for criticism about his traditionally terrible shooting figures (no player in NBA record has shot even worse from 3-position selection with as many attempts as him). Take that player and place him on the Lakers, where by a handful of lousy games is all it normally takes to be the following Dennis Schroder, and you are signing up for nights like Saturday.

It shouldn’t be a surprise either that Westbrook entered Saturday with his cheapest details for every video game considering that 2010 and a great deal of other lackluster quantities. Placing him on a staff the place he is, at most effective, the secondary ball-handler in crunch time, was often heading to indicate compromises and hopes that he could be much more effective with fewer options, which has not occurred.

But James reportedly required Westbrook, and so the Lakers bought Westbrook, and now the Lakers could be stuck with Westbrook. Unloading him on a different staff, a midseason retooling not found on a James-led team considering that his very last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, is likely to be tricky mainly because of that contract. And any participant the Lakers get back again is almost certainly going to have warts of his individual.

So the Lakers’ greatest path ahead looks to be preserving Westbrook and hoping he … changes. At 33 decades outdated, in his 14th period in the league. Probably that’s acquiring improved at capturing, or just stop attempting to shoot at all while concentrating on facilitating, but in which would that go away the former MVP in an offense that’s going to want LeBron James orchestrating the offense? There’s also the alternative that was presented Saturday, benching him for men like Talen Horton-Tucker, who got Westbrook’s minutes in time beyond regulation.

None of this seems specially enjoyable to determine out, and will almost certainly involve another person to swallow their pleasure if the crew wishes a probability at a deep playoff operate.