While everyone in the organization is to blame for the Los Angeles Lakers’ struggles, a lot of it has fallen on Russell Westbrook given he was their big offseason acquisition and hasn’t played up to standard.
With Westbrook continuing to struggle in recent weeks, Frank Vogel was asked after Thursday night’s loss to the L.A. Clippers if they have considered bringing him off the bench, to which he had a simple response: “We’ve talked about everything.”
Vogel was then asked after Friday’s practice if it’s an actual possibility though, and he and his staff are not at that point yet.
“Honestly, I’m not really gonna get into that,” Vogel said. “We’ve had discussions, just like the front office has thousands of trade discussions every trade deadline, most of them don’t come to fruition and that’s where we’re at with Russ. Having said if that’s the path that’s a better option, we have talked about that, we’ve talked about everything we can do with our team, OK. We’re not there, so I have nothing to add to that.”
In the loss to the Clippers, the Lakers were victims of a 23-0 run in the third quarter to effectively put the game out of reach. During that stretch, the Clippers put center Ivica Zubac on Westbrook, allowing him to roam the paint without having to worry about the threat of a 3-point shooter being left open.
Vogel discussed what they can do to avoid that happening moving forward.
“When we play small ball, they’re gonna hide their centers where they can. That was a big point of emphasis today, that all of our guards, all of our players honestly, have to be able to attack that the appropriate way. Russ had a good drive to the basket where he got to the rim for a layup and lost a few of the other battles.
“But if they put the five on LeBron, if they put him on Melo, Talen, Avery, any of these guys, we can all be screeners and we can all move the defense when we see that situation hurting us. So we have to be better in attacking and we will be.”
With Westbrook continuing to start for the Lakers, they will have to continue to find ways to make it work offensively alongside with LeBron James, another ball-dominant player. James has typically played well with shooters alongside him, which Westbrook obviously isn’t, which is why the fit hasn’t exactly worked so far this season.
Vogel pleased with Westbrook’s defensive qualities
Defensively though, while the Lakers have also struggled on that end, Vogel is pleased with some of the qualities Westbrook has brought to the table.
“To have a great defense, you need physicality and athleticism. He brings that to the table for us, he fights and competes in his matchups and that’s something that’s needed if we’re gonna turn things around defensively.”
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