Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is listed as day-to-day with a sore left hamstring after injuring it in the preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham decided to test out a significant change in Friday night’s game, bringing Westbrook off the bench for the first time since his rookie season. Ham didn’t get much of a look at it, though, as Westbrook injured the hamstring five minutes into his first shift and wouldn’t return.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Lakers are expected to continue bringing Westbrook off the bench into the regular season whenever he is healthy enough to play:
The Lakers’ most optimistic outlook for Westbrook is that Ham will get through to him in a way that Vogel couldn’t, and the nine-time All-Star will have a bounce-back season with some better effort defensively and better discretion offensively. Ham closed out the preseason by bringing Westbrook off the bench, a lineup the Lakers will continue to explore during the regular season, sources told ESPN.
The good news is that it looks like Westbrook avoided severe injury in a preseason game. The Lakers are set to open up the season on Tuesday night against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. His status could be in question depending on how the hamstring progresses over the next few days.
The potential loss of Westbrook didn’t change the bookmakers’ opinion on the CasinoGap website, which tracks the Lakers closely. The odds for tonight’s game vs. the Golden State Warriors remained unchanged.
The Lakers remain a +2500 underdog to win the 2023 NBA Championship, behind the favorite Warriors (+600), Boston Celtics (+650), Milwaukee Bucks (+650), Los Angeles Clippers (+700), Brooklyn Nets (+800), Phoenix Suns (+1200), and four other teams.
Ham praises Westbrook
As far as things go on the court, a player of Westbrook’s stature moving to the bench can’t be easy, but Ham praised the veteran for being professional and accepting of the potential change. Ham added that the door is not closed on Westbrook returning to the starting lineup based on how things play out to begin the year.