The marriage between the Los Angeles Lakers and Russell Westbrook has long seemed headed toward divorce in the near future.
As rumors surrounding the 33-year-old guard’s future kept spreading, the 2017 NBA MVP also seemed to have fallen out with head coach Frank Vogel — who has benched Westbrook in key moments of three games this season.
Recent reports claimed both the Lakers and Westbrook are interested in parting ways in the summer. NBA insider Marc Stein adds it seems “impossible” L.A. will keep the guard beyond the current campaign, in big part due to his “defiance” amid the team’s attempts to change his role:
Jousting with reporters in press conferences is apparently not the lone source of pushback these days from under-fire guard Russell Westbrook. There has been no shortage of defiance behind the scenes, I’m told, when coaches and teammates have tried to broach changes in role or approach with the former MVP. For all the obvious complexities involved in trying to move Westbrook when he’s owed a whopping $47 million next season at age 34, one league source described the idea of bringing him back next season as “impossible” based on current tension levels. The question then becomes: If the Lakers can’t construct a palatable trade, do they try to just buy Westbrook out? Or waive and stretch him?
Vogel recently admitted to the Lakers holding internal discussions over the possibility of using Westbrook off the bench. However, the head coach then clarified the Lakers “are not there, so I have nothing to add to that.”
Earlier this week, Westbrook said he is “changing every single night,” trying to figure out how to play in a way that “benefits and helps my team.”
Westbrook: I’m not a quitter
Westbrook has said he didn’t have any expectations for his debut season with the Lakers before arriving in L.A. But even though the Purple and Gold have been fared way worse than anyone predicted, the guard said he won’t stop trying to help the team turn things around.
“My expectations are still the same, I’m not a quitter, it’s not in my genes,” he said.
“I don’t quit regardless of what the hell is going on. I’m a fighter until the end and if it don’t work, that’s cool, I can live with the results. But I’m never gonna give up or give in because of a little struggle that’s happening this time of the year.”
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