Lakers News: Paul George & Other NBA Players Show Support For Russell Westbrook After Difficult Preseason Finish
Russell Westbrook, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook is off to a difficult start of his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers, finding himself on the bench for tip-off in L.A.’s loss to the Sacramento Kings

Westbrook ended the 2022 preseason averaging 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 16.4 minutes per game. He did show flashes of his playmaking prowess, finding his teammates unguarded out on the perimeter and setting them up for dunks and layups following his drives into the paint.

But the preseason also exposed Westbrook’s well-known weaknesses, including terrible defense and sloppiness with the ball. In addition, the 2017 NBA MVP appeared to be intentionally staying away from his teammates during Wednesday’s clash against the Minnesota Timberwolves — accusations he has denied.

But Westbrook then started the loss to the Kings on the bench — before suffering a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the preseason finale.

Dark clouds have seemingly gathered over Westbrook’s future with the Lakers again. However, the 33-year-old has received plenty of support from current and former NBA stars amid the issues the guard faced this week. L.A. Clippers forward Paul George, former Lakers Isaiah Thomas and Nick Young, and three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford all came to Westbrook’s defense on Twitter:

Regardless of Westbrook’s availability for the Opening Night clash with the Golden State Warriors, his demotion appears to be a permanent change. However, head coach Darvin Ham doesn’t rule out the possibility of the guard’s return to the starting lineup.

“The door is not closed on Russ starting, the door is not closed on if this works we gotta explore it even further,” Ham said earlier this week. “It’s totally a strategic move.”

Lakers will reportedly start Westbrook trade conversations again after 2022-23 season starts

The change in Westbrook’s role suggests the Lakers will soon try to trade the guard again after failing to move his $47.1 million contract in the offseason.

Latest reports claim L.A. “would like to go out and improve this team certainly before the trade deadline.”

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