Russell Westbrook defying role change, Los Angeles Lakers return ‘impossible’ next season

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook hoping he would thrive in a new role alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Less than a year later, it seems growing problems in Los Angeles have left the two parties ready to go their separate ways.

Immediately after sending a huge trade package to the Washington Wizards — Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the No. 22 pick — the Lakers faced skepticism. Many doubted a guard dominating the ball without a reliable outside shot would suit LeBron and Davis. However, both superstars have been pushing for the deal to happen.

  • Russell Westbrook’s stats (2021-’22): 18.1 ppg, 7.3 apg, 7.7 rpg, .028WS/48

The results are simply disastrous. After months of poor play, Westbrook begins to direct his frustrations at the fans and the media. It appears to be the same type of reaction Westbrook garnered against criticism within the Lakers organization when pressed to make changes.

2 reasons Russell Westbrook will be traded this offseason

NBA insider Marc Stein reports that Westbrook showed “defiance” behind the scenes when teammates and coaches suggested a role change or adjustment with his approach. Because of that, as well as his lackluster play, a source told Stein that a return to Los Angeles for Westbrook next season was “impossible.”

The front office of LeBron, Davis and the Lakers set high expectations for themselves and for Westbrook at the start of the season. With the team now skidding towards the finish line, in grave danger of missing out on the qualifying tournament, it’s no surprise changes are looming.

  • Russell Westbrook Contract: $47.063 million player option (2022-’23)

The 33-year-old guard certainly won’t turn down his player option this offseason, given the money on the table. Essentially locked into a one-year, $47 million contract, the Lakers will have to desperately seek a team willing to absorb the cash.

Rebecca R. Santistevan