Lakers report: Tension between Russell Westbrook and team is palpable
Throughout this season, fans have been fed up enough with Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, due to his poor outside shooting, propensity to commit turnovers and anemic defense.
But it is now apparent that things are worse than they seemed.
According to veteran NBA insider Marc Stein, Westbrook’s prickly personality is also a problem, and not just when he seems to not want to fully engage with the media after games.
Via Marc Stein:
“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?”
But that’s just the beginning. Several weeks ago, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that the former All-Star guard didn’t react well to constructive feedback during the Lakers’ film sessions.
For weeks, the staff had considered benching Westbrook at a moment like this. Team sources said there was always concern as to how he’d react to such a move. Would he get defensive, as he often had when he felt like he was being singled out in film sessions? Would it erode the confidence that is so important to his game?
When Vogel finally did it, it was as understandable as it was stunning.
“Frank ripped the Band-Aid off,” one team source said.
If Westbrook were the type of player who was always working on rectifying his flaws and becoming a better and more well-rounded player, perhaps the Lakers could live with his prickly personality.
But according to former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, Westbrook has refused the help of Phil Handy, the team’s player development coach.
Via Fadeaway World:
“I’m extremely bothered by Russ and those comments after the game. For the simple fact that accountability is huge and Russell Westbrook is shying away from that word for some reason. He can’t sit up here and say ‘hey I was brought here to help but it’s out of my hands.’ No, it’s been in your hands. You just haven’t delivered. And you know what’s weird to me? They have a guy over there by the name of Phil Handy, coach Phil Handy — arguably the best developmental guy in the NBA. For some reason, Russell Westbrook just won’t give Phil Handy a chance and every night I’m watching his game struggle.”
It’s no wonder then that the Lakers were as active as they were in looking to trade the triple-double king prior to last month’s NBA trade deadline.
If L.A. does indeed deal Westbrook after the conclusion of their season, as both parties have agreed to, let’s just hope they get decent value in return.
Whether it’s him or someone else, the team needs a viable scoring, playmaking and ball-handling guard who can push the pace in order to lessen LeBron James’ workload.
The four-time MVP will turn 38 next season, and he may already be showing signs of true wear and tear, as he’s been playing heavy minutes this season.
Lakers vs. Warriors: Stream, lineups, injury reports and broadcast info for Saturday