LeBron James, Russell Westbrook Sat Apart at Lakers SL Game amid Kyrie Irving Rumors

Adam WellsJuly 9, 2022

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James has a long history of being passive aggressive when he is frustrated about something on one of his teams, as Russell Westbrook may have found out Friday night.

Per The Athletic's Jovan Buha, James and Westbrook were in attendance for the Los Angeles Lakers' 104-84 loss to the Phoenix Suns in summer-league action.

However, according to Buha, the Lakers teammates sat on opposite ends of the floor as they were taking in the game.

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha

Russell Westbrook is here and sitting on the Lakers’ bench <a href="https://t.co/yaL8CtoFtH">pic.twitter.com/yaL8CtoFtH</a>

"But with all eyes in the arena—and on TV and social media—on James and Westbrook, it was interesting, if not telling, that they never publicly interacted. Especially when considering their bromance at summer league less than 12 months ago," Buha wrote.

Buha noted several Lakers players and members of the front office interacted with James, including Wenyen Gabriel, Thomas Bryant, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Talen Horton-Tucker, senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis, general manager Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham.

Jovan Buha @jovanbuha

Darvin Ham, LeBron James and Rob Pelinka <a href="https://t.co/ZWPsPOV7Ei">pic.twitter.com/ZWPsPOV7Ei</a>

Westbrook left the game at halftime, while James stayed through the end of the third quarter.

The obvious takeaway from this could be James is letting things play out with the potential Westbrook-Kyrie Irving trade.

It's been a strange offseason already for the Lakers, even though they haven't made a big splash. Team CEO and governor Jeanie Buss sent out a vague, cryptic tweet on July 4:

Jeanie Buss @JeanieBuss

I miss KB. He would understand and explain everything that I’m not allowed to. Honestly he was the greatest Laker ever. He understood team over self. Meaning your rewards would come if you valued team goals over your own then everything would fall into place. All can reply.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported on July 2 that the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were "actively engaged" in talks on a deal centered around Westbrook and Irving.

There's no indication at this point that a deal is getting close. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski floated the possibility during Wednesday's episode of NBA Today that a team like the San Antonio Spurs, who have cap space, could be brought into the mix to help facilitate a deal in a three-team trade.

Of course, it's also possible that James is just being passive aggressive with a teammate who didn't play as well as he was hoping last season. The four-time NBA MVP is no stranger to taking this approach, most notably with Kevin Love during the 2014-15 season.

Whatever reason there might have been for James and Westbrook not to interact in Las Vegas on Friday night, the Lakers remain in the spotlight as everyone in the NBA awaits for some resolution with the Nets for Irving and Kevin Durant.

Westbrook, who is owed $47.1 million next season, averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in 78 starts for the Lakers in 2021-22.


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