Lakers Rumors: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook Summer League Scene Was 'Tense'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 16, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 08: LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers attends a game between the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 08, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers teammates LeBron James and Russell Westbrook didn't sit near or interact with each other during a Las Vegas Summer League game July 8 featuring L.A. and the Phoenix Suns, and the scene caught the attention of Lakers staffers.

According to Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group, "the subtext of the chilly scene seemed clear: Several people within the Lakers organization acknowledged it was an awkward and tense moment between its two most high-profile superstars."

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported July 9 that Westbrook and James didn't interact with each other. Westbrook went into the team huddle, and numerous players and team brass talked with James, but the two never crossed paths.

"Westbrook never walked over, though, leaving just as the halftime buzzer sounded. James stayed through the end of the third quarter," Buha wrote.

"The two never acknowledged each other."

Westbrook is at the center of trade rumors primarily connected with the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving, James' old Cleveland Cavaliers teammate. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports wrote July 2 that L.A. and Brooklyn were speaking about a deal involving the duo.

There are rumors that James wants Irving on the team, and longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote July 3 that James "wants to see Irving in Lakerland more than anyone." ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted on the July 7 edition of Get Up! that James "wants to win tonight" and that "Irving gives him a chance tonight."

The Lakers would need to move Westbrook's salary and clear a spot in the backcourt to add Irving, so dealing Westbrook would certainly open the door for a reunion.

Westbrook's now ex-longtime agent, Thad Foucher, told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday that the pair split due to "irreconcilable differences."

For now, Westbrook is still a Laker, and Irving is still a Net, but it's easy to wonder how much longer that will be true.