The Russell Westbrook in Los Angeles saga may have gained a new chapter in the story.
Following Tuesday night’s season-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook spoke about a hamstring injury he suffered in the preseason. An injury he attributed to his role in that game, coming off the bench.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight,” Westbrook said. “Honestly, I didn’t know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose. That’s something I wasn’t accustomed to.”
Head coach Darvin Ham had been trying to experiment with the idea of Westbrook leading the second unit when LeBron James was off the floor. Being a reserve is not a role that Russell Westbrook is used to playing throughout his 15-year NBA career. He has not come off the bench in a regular season game since his rookie season in 2009.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham on Russell Westbrook coming off the bench tonight: “It’s not a demotion; it’s a realignment.”
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 15, 2022
Westbrook has not been officially placed in a bench role, as he started in the season opener alongside Patrick Beverley. Last season, Westbrook directed a similar complaint toward then-head coach Frank Vogel regarding his minutes. While he started all 78 games he played, Westbrook was benched for long stretches at a time. At the time, he pointed to the readjustment of his minutes as the cause of a back injury, according to CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger.
“It comes and goes,’ Westbrook said. “I’m not accustomed to sitting down for long stretches and getting up and moving quickly. It kind of stiffens up a little bit.”
Russell Westbrook’s Offseason Dilemma
This adds to the growing pile of drama that Russell Westbrook has dealt with since being traded to the Lakers in 2021. Trade rumors have followed Westbrook since early last season as he dealt with one of the worst seasons in his career. In addition, the acquisition of Patrick Beverley has created a logjam in the backcourt. Between Westbrook, Beverley, Austin Reaves, Lonnie Walker, and Dennis Schroder, the guard spots are crowded.
Recently, during a preseason game against Minnesota, Westbrook was seen ignoring a team huddle. A bad look for a Lakers team mired in uncertainty.
Russell Westbrook ignoring the team huddle 👀😬 pic.twitter.com/3zrpBplZua
— The Laker Files (@LakerFiles) October 13, 2022
It was not a good start for the team in their 123-109 loss Tuesday night, but there are 81 more games for Russell Westbrook, Darvin Ham, and the Lakers.
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