With each passing week of this offseason, it’s looking more and more likely that Russell Westbrook will start the 2022-23 season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
They have been trying to trade him for the last several months and especially over the past several weeks, most notably for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving. But nothing has even come close to materializing.
More and more fans and observers feel that if Westbrook remains a Laker, the best way for them to salvage the situation is to bring him off the bench in a sixth-man role and to possibly go with late-game lineups that don’t include him.
According to one NBA reporter, that could very well happen.
Via Lakers Daily:
“It looks like that might not be an issue in the upcoming campaign, as new head coach Darvin Ham will reportedly have more power to bench Westbrook at the end of games if he desires to do so.
“‘Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook down the stretch of games, according to league sources,’ Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported. ‘(Former head coach Frank Vogel did so a few times last season). That could eventually extend to removing Westbrook from the starting lineup as well.'”
Ham has been speaking about Westbrook in glowing terms, and it is therefore unclear whether he would like to start him or bring him off the bench.
But the good thing for the Lakers is that it looks like they will have more options than they did this past season as far as a closing lineup.
Kendrick Nunn, who didn’t play at all this past season, says he’s fully healthy, and the team as a whole is younger and deeper, if not better than it was during the 2021-22 campaign.