Woj: Russell Westbrook Coming Off Lakers' Bench 'Inevitable' Barring Turnaround

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVOctober 26, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 18: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the season opener game against the Golden State Warriors on October 18, 2022 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images

Russell Westbrook may not be long for the Los Angeles Lakers' starting lineup.

"I think a Russell Westbrook move to the bench is probably inevitable unless his performance changes, the team's performance changes," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Wednesday on Get Up (3:50 mark).

Westbrook is expected to miss Wednesday's game against the Denver Nuggets with a lingering hamstring injury. He first suffered the injury in the Lakers' preseason finale, in which he came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season.

"I've been doing the same thing for 14 years straight," Westbrook told reporters last week, at least partially attributing the hamstring injury to coming off the bench. "Honestly, I didn't even know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose. ... That's something I just wasn't accustomed to."

Westbrook has been in the starting lineup for the Lakers' first three games, all losses, and is continuing to fail to mesh with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the floor. He's averaging 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while shooting a ghastly 28.9 percent.

The Lakers have been outscored by 7.9 points per 100 possessions with Westbrook on the floor. While they've been trounced in minutes Westbrook has sat as well, it's worth noting that most of his minutes have come with the starters, when the Lakers should presumably be at their best.

The Lakers' decision to hold on to Westbrook rather than part with their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in a trade looks like a seismic mistake. Westbrook doesn't fit with this roster in the slightest, and capable veterans who are available in a trade could shift this season from an impending disaster to salvageable.

Westbrook's dreadful play is doing nothing but raising the price for taking him on.