The NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday with the Los Angeles Lakers making no moves as other teams were not interested in their limited assets.
Sitting at 26-30, it’s no secret that things haven’t worked out for the Lakers this season, which is why they tried to make some changes. The biggest change would’ve been trading Russell Westbrook, who the team acquired last summer to be their third star alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook hasn’t played at a high level and doesn’t seem to fit with James and Davis so far though, leading to the team wanting to trade him to start over according to reports. It’s not surprising the Lakers were unsuccessful in their attempts to trade the point guard given his massive contract, which includes a $47 million player option for next season.
Now, Westbrook will surely be around for the rest of the season, so he, James, Davis and the rest of the team will have to figure out how to coexist in the Lakers was to salvage the year.
Speaking after the trade deadline, Rob Pelinka said he has had conversations with Westbrook about making sacrifices to help the team win, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“I’ve had several conversations with Russ since we acquired him in the trade and really appreciated those,” Pelinka said. “As everybody knows, Russ is a big-hearted individual. He wants to win. And he knows we, with players as impactful and influential on the court as Anthony and LeBron are, it’s going to require sacrifices in his game and how he plays.”
Both James and Davis have missed time due to injury this season, so Pelinka added that he doesn’t feel the Lakers have had enough time with their stars playing together to truly know if it can work:
“I think if you took any three All-Stars in the NBA and your body of work was 15 games, I think that would probably be a small number of games to make any ultimate conclusions on,” Pelinka said.
While it’s unfortunate that the Lakers haven’t been at full strength this season, their recent play has not been encouraging as they recently lost to the tanking Portland Trail Blazers.
Westbrook sat out that game due to a minor back injury, but prior to that, he was in the midst of one of the worst stretches of his career.
Westbrook feels he deserves to close games
With Westbrook not playing well, Frank Vogel opted to go with different closing lineups in the Lakers’ last couple of games.
Clearly not happy with being benched, Westbrook did not hold back in saying he believes he deserves to close games.
“Who me? I don’t have that answer for you, brother. I wish I did,” Westbrook said when asked if he’s been given a benchmark of how well he has to play to close. “I shouldn’t have to hit any benchmark, to be honest. I put a lot of work. I’ve got a lot of respect in this game. I don’t have to hit a benchmark. I shouldn’t have to. I’ve earned the right to be in closing lineups. Numbers will tell you.
“I don’t have to explain that, but like I said, once again, it ain’t my decision. That’s his decision that he and his coaching staff think that’s best for the game. Unfortunately, just kind of have to go with it and figure it out the best way that I can and be there for my teammates as much that I can and make sure that I come to work and do my job as a professional.”
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