Lakers no longer believe they can win with Russell Westbrook

Sources have indicated that the Lakers no longer believe they can win at a high level with Westbrook alongside James and Davis, but prior to Tuesday the line of thinking was that the Lakers would be unwilling to wave the white flag and admit their summer blockbuster was a failure. Instead, they would prefer to wait until the offseason, when they could also include a 2029 pick in a potential deal for another max-contract player looking for a new home.
Source: Bill Oram @ The Athletic

What’s the buzz on Twitter?

Bill Oram @billoram
From last night: Whether it is by Thursday’s trade deadline or in the summer, the Lakers know, and acknowledge internally, that they need to find their way out of the Russell Westbrook business.…11:09 AM
Sam Quinn @SamQuinnCBS
I’m starting to get the feeling that today is gonna be the James Harden-Ben Simmons day, and then tomorrow is gonna be the “Russell Westbrook gets resolved one way or another” day, and then we’ll all marvel at how organized the proceedings were this year. – 10:31 AM
The Vertical @YahooSportsNBA
“I earned the right to be in closing lineups.”
Russell Westbrook laid into Lakers head coach Frank Vogel after a second straight benching in crunch time.
➡ AM

Justin Kubatko @jkubatko
Nikola Jokic last night:
✅ 21 PTS
✅ 11 REB
✅ 7 AST
Jokic has recorded at least 20p/10r/5a in 32 games this season, 11 more than any other player.
The only players in NBA history to record more such games prior to the All-Star break are Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook. AM

Kyle Goon @kylegoon
The Bucks dismantled the Lakers, demonstrating how far below contending level they are.
Perhaps even more disconcerting, the Lakers showed their fragmentation off-court as Russell Westbrook said he’s earned a closing role:…2:34 AM
Sam Quinn @SamQuinnCBS
It just occurred to me that if the Lakers threw enough draft capital at Oklahoma City to take on the Westbrook contract, they could duck the luxury tax entirely.
No, I do not think this is wise or likely. But do with this information what you will. – 1:34 AM
Ryan Ward @RyanWardLA
Russell Westbrook on what benchmarks he has to hit to be in the Lakers’ closing lineup for Frank Vogel (question via @Kyle Goon): AM

Dave McMenamin @mcten
Russell Westbrook on his hometown L.A. fans booing him tonight at the Lakers game: “It’s a sign of respect.” – 1:09 AM
Ryan Ward @RyanWardLA
Russell Westbrook on if Frank Vogel has been clear about when he’ll play (1/2): “No, he hasn’t. I don’t need him to be clear about whatever decision he makes … That’s up to him…” – 1:09 AM
Jovan Buha @jovanbuha
When asked if he knows the benchmarks he has to hit to make the Lakers’ closing lineup, Russell Westbrook said: “I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmarks, to be honest. I put a lot of work in. I got a lot of respect in this game. … I earned the right to be in closing lineups.” – 1:06 AM
Kyle Goon @kylegoon
A key line from Russell Westbrook in this postgame: “I’ve earned the right” to be in the closing lineups. He says it’s Frank’s call but said he doesn’t think he should have to hit any particular benchmarks to be in there late. – 1:06 AM
Ryan Ward @RyanWardLA
Russell Westbrook on boos from Lakers fans: “Sign of respect. My mindset is not predicated on boos.” – 12:59 AM
Dave McMenamin @mcten
Stop me if you heard this one before … Lakers cut a 30 point deficit down to 10 but still lose, 131-116 to MIL. LeBron 27p on 11-of-19 8a; AD 22p on 8-of-10 9r 3b; Monk 20p 5a; Stanley 16p 6r; Reaves 10p; Westbrook 10p 10r. Giannis 44p on 17-of-20 14r 8a. – 12:33 AM
Kyle Goon @kylegoon
Lakers dismantled by the Bucks, 131-116.
LeBron with 27 points, AD with 22. Giannis lays a 44-burger on the Lakers. Milwaukee shot 15 threes.
Russell Westbrook did not play a minute of the fourth quarter. – 12:33 AM
StatMuse @statmuse
Russell Westbrook is shooting 27.5% in his last 4 games.
He is 2-13 from three in that span. AM

David Locke @DLocke09
Is Russell Westbrook no 4th quarter minutes even a story anymore? – 12:29 AM
David Hardisty @clutchfans
If the Lakers don’t make the Russell Westbrook + first for John Wall trade now, then nothing would have ever pressured them to do it because things could not be much worse for Russ in LA right now. – 12:07 AM
Chuck Cooperstein @coopmavs
Only one concern coming out of the Mavs win tonight. Luka picked up his 3rd technical in the last 4 games and now has 11 for the season (In 40 games) tying him w/Embiid and Westbrook, one behind Carmelo. You are suspended on the 16th. Mavs have 26 games to play. – 12:04 AM
Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
Lakers call timeout after Bucks extend a 99-69 lead with 6:05 left in the 3rd Q. Westbrook had made a good pass to Ariza, who missed the open shot. But Westbrook trudged back on defense, and Bucks had an open 3 – 11:39 PM
Bill Oram @billoram
The boos came out at the 9:02 mark of the third, after Russell Westbrook’s fourth turnover and continued through Milwaukee’s next possession when Bobby Portis knocked down another 3 to push he Bucks lead to a game-high 27 points. – 11:33 PM
Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
“What are you doing?!” a Lakers fan after Westbrook threw a pass toward the middle of the court. Then another turnover. More boos. – 11:33 PM
Tony Jones @Tjonesonthenba
Not Greg Monroe (Go Hoyas) staying with Westbrook stride for stride and blocking his shot – 11:00 PM
Eric Koreen @ekoreen
Greg Monroe just blocked Russell Westbrook at the rim.
That’s all, folks. – 10:59 PM
Bill Oram @billoram
Russell Westbrook a total non-factor so far three nights after getting benched. He’s scoreless, missed all four shots and committed two turnovers. – 10:35 PM
Jim Owczarski @JimOwczarski
Russell Westbrook has stepped out of bounds and traveled after taking his eye off a pass, Anthony Davis just watched an entry pass bounce off his hands out of bounds. – 10:30 PM
Eric Nehm @eric_nehm
Antetokounmpo is not happy. He had already blocked Davis and Westbrook. That would have been the third member of the Lakers’ big 3, but they called a foul and LeBron James will head to the line.
Bucks up, 17-12, with 6:55 left in the first quarter. – 10:14 PM
Eric Nehm @eric_nehm
Giannis Antetokounmpo blocks Russell Westbrook’s layup on one end and Khris Middleton dribbles the length of the floor for tonight’s first bucket. – 10:06 PM
Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
First play of the Lakers-Bucks game: Giannis stuffs Westbrook at the rim; Middleton finishes with a fast-break layup. This could be a long night for the Lakers – 10:06 PM
Jovan Buha @jovanbuha
Trevor Ariza replaces Stanley Johnson in the new Lakers starting lineup.
Starters vs. Bucks:
Anthony Davis
LeBron James
Trevor Ariza
Malik Monk
Russell Westbrook – 9:33 PM
Mike Trudell @LakersReporter
Only switch from last game’s starting lineup is Ariza in for Johnson. Monk remains in the backcourt alongside Westbrook. – 9:33 PM
Brad Townsend @townbrad
Only Westbrook and Carmelo have more techs this season (12) than Doncic’s 11. Man, that’s a lot of Laker griping. – 9:01 PM
Bill Oram @billoram
✏LA’s incentive to resist trading ’27 1st until summer when ’29 pick can be added as possible Westbrook sweetener
✏THT’s shrinking value
✏Will 9th-place Lakers even be a top destination in buyout market?
+ more deadline 🗣🗣🗣 from @Jovan Buha & me:…3:42 PM
Joe Mussatto @joe_mussatto
After last night, Lu Dort is tied for fifth with Thabo Sefolosha on the Thunder’s all-time 3-pointers list
1. Kevin Durant: 1,084
2. Russell Westbrook: 922
3. Paul George: 536
4. James Harden: 320
T5. Thabo Sefolosha: 265
T5. Lu Dort: 265 – 1:20 PM

More on this storyline

Less than 48 hours before the trade deadline, James was echoing a sentiment that has spread throughout an increasingly dispirited Lakers organization. Sources told The Athletic that inside the locker room, players see and feel the same problems as everyone else, perhaps never more clearly than after a non-competitive loss to the champs. They understand as well as anyone that the personnel on this joyless 26-29 team simply isn’t working. -via The Athletic / February 9, 2022
Either way, whether it is by Thursday’s deadline or in the summer, the Lakers know they need to find their way out of the Russell Westbrook business. One Lakers staffer who had reservations about the trade when it was made in July recently told The Athletic, “I didn’t think it would be this bad.” -via The Athletic / February 9, 2022
“It’s obvious they’re trying to move Westbrook, which is damn-near impossible,” a league exec told “They know that roster’s just not working.” Said another, “Russell plays hard and he’s always put up big numbers. But is he a winning player?” -via / February 7, 2022

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