Russell Westbrook is making NBA history for all the wrong reasons these days. Gone are the dubious venerations over his averaging triple-doubles for fringe playoff teams. The Los Angeles Lakers deluded themselves into thinking Westbrook was a key piece to their championship-or-bust equation. It ain't working out to say the absolute least and to be as kind as humanly possible.
I swear I'm not making the second half of that headline up, either. While I cannot locate audio/video to prove it at this ungodly hour (h/t Pacific Time Zone), we have multiple boots on the ground who witnessed this firsthand at
STAPLES CENTER oh fuck sorry Crypto.com Arena.
A Clippers-Lakers game is supposed to be exciting. Theoretically. You have LeBron and Anthony Davis on the Purple and Gold side, and on the perpetual little brother LA franchise, you have stars like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The ugly 103-97 Clippers win that ensued is all the more disappointing in that context.
You wanna talk about context, though? How about the fact that Westbrook went zero-for-11 from the field and the Lakers still only managed to lose by six? Did Russ contribute to some of that stout defensive effort? Sure. Does he have any business playing for this team whatsoever? Absolutely not.
When Skip Bayless is out here making decent points about anything, you know something is oh so very wrong.
I was thinking about a, "The Lakers Should've Traded Russ Yesterday" -centric headline. That's a common funny expression to communicate how stupid it is for a sports team to double down on a clear-as-day bad fucking investment. Except in Westbrook's case, well, pretty much everyone except for Rob Pelinka could see FROM THE DAY RUSS WAS ACQUIRED that this had disaster written all over it.
Front offices in major sports make boneheaded decisions all the time, yet there are many scrutinized moves that wind up working out. I don't think there was literally one person you could find who thought the Lakers trading for Russ was a good idea from Day 1.
So…why is he still playing? Guy is clearly hurting the team laying bricks to this degree. The fans have soured on him. He's lost his confidence and will likely never shoot even marginally well ever again.
What's worse is, Westbrook is in denial of reality. Asked after the game if he could find any specific reasons why the Lakers didn't come out on top, he said, "Not sure. No particular reason." Then, requested to assess his individual performance, the reply was: "Solid. Played hard that's all you can ask for. Move on to the next one."
Ummmmmmmmmmm hey Russ, I could ask for maybe TWO made baskets on your 11 field goal attempts!
I say bury him on the bench a la newly minted Clipper John Wall during his last little while with the Rockets. There should be plenty of teams trying to tank for Victor Wembanyama/Scoot Henderson, but Westbrook's contract is so prohibitive that it'll be a salary matching nightmare and multiple other teams would need to be brought in to facilitate a deal.
What a mess. That's an understatement but you get me. I've seen some shit in all my years of covering sports. In all sincerity, I cannot believe the Lakers and Pelinka sat there all summer, stared down the barrel of this $47 million Westbrook cap hit for the 2022-23 season that everyone knew he'd opt into, and really said, "YEEEEEAH LET'S RUN IT BACK BAY-BEEEEEE!!"
Tell 'em, Tony Hopkins.
Please, Lakers. Stop doing this to us. For your own sake and any unfortunate soul who has to watch or, yikes, cheer for your team right now. Either bench Russ or get rid of him. It's OVER.