Dark clouds are gathering over the Los Angeles Lakers’ Big 3 experiment in the aftermath of Russell Westbrook’s recent slump.
Head coach Frank Vogel benched Westbrook in two straight games before the 33-year-old guard missed the loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Before the embarrassing Wednesday defeat, rumors claimed L.A. no longer believed it could become competitive with the 2017 NBA MVP partnering LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook’s determination to win titles for the Lakers was put into question after the guard said he’s “earned” a place in the team’s closing lineups despite his form nosediving in recent time. He is averaging 12.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 8.0 assists, shooting 33% from the field and 24% from beyond the arc over his last five games.
But James claims Westbrook wants to lead L.A. to success, giving some insight into his recent conversations with him.
“He wants to be better and he wants to put us in a position where we can win ballgames with him on the floor,” the four-time NBA champion said. “He wants to make plays, he wants to lead this team like he’s capable of doing and like he’s done in his career. He wants to prove to people, prove to himself that he knows he belongs on a championship ballclub or someone that’s aspiring to be a championship ballclub.
“Those are my guesses, I’m not gonna tell you exactly our dialogue, but those are my guesses because I know the person that he is. I understand that he knew and we know what we’re all here for so I just hate where we are right now and it hasn’t kind of worked out that way two-thirds through the season.”
Westbrook’s form and response to his benching fueled trade rumors ahead of the Thursday trade deadline. However, just hours before the noon PT deadline, the Lakers reportedly weren’t engaged in any trade discussions involving the guard and no deal ultimately came to fruition.
Lakers believed to have discussed trading Talen Horton-Tucker to Raptors and Knicks
Although the Lakers have been considered unlikely to pull off any significant trades before Thursday’s deadline, reports claimed they had conversations with the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors about a deal that would involve Talen Horton-Tucker.
The Raptors demanded Horton-Tucker last year when L.A. pursued then-Raptors star Kyle Lowry — but the Purple and Gold refused to part ways with the promising guard.
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