Russell Westbrook hasn't come off the bench since his rookie season, but it could be a possibility with the Los Angeles Lakers next season.
"The prospect of Westbrook coming off the bench is being strongly considered," Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported.
The Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley this offseason before agreeing to a one-year deal with Dennis Schröder on Friday, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. Though Schröder will make $2.64 million and Westbrook will earn $47.1 million, it seems the starting job will have to be earned on the court.
According to Buha and Amick, new head coach Darvin Ham has "the full backing of the organization" to make whatever roster decisions are needed.
NBA reporter Marc Stein provided more insight on the backcourt plans:
Marc Stein @TheSteinLine
The lineup decisions to come will be Darvin Ham's, league sources say, but as it stands on Sept. 16: The Lakers head to training camp viewing Westbrook and Schroder as lead guards, PatBev as another 2-guard alongside Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves as a 3 behind LeBron James. <a href="https://t.co/sTQx9kE6ur">https://t.co/sTQx9kE6ur</a>
Schröder finished second on the team with 5.8 assists per game when he last played with the Lakers in 2020-21, trailing only LeBron James. He added 15.4 points per game to rank third behind LeBron and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook had better raw numbers in his first season in Los Angeles, averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. His 1.7 win shares were still a career low, per Basketball Reference, while the Lakers were 3.6 points worse per 100 possessions when he was on the court.
Efficiency could still be an issue coming off the bench, but Westbrook's offensive production could be a major plus for the second team when James and Davis are sitting.
Beverley, meanwhile, could be a quality fit in the starting lineup as a low-usage guard who is known for his defensive ability. He has been named to the All-Defensive team three times in his career, and he could help turn around a unit that ranked 21st in the NBA in efficiency last year.
After a 33-49 finish in 2021-22, it's clear the Lakers will try whatever it takes to turn things around next year.