The Los Angeles Lakers began their 2022-23 NBA season on Tuesday night, and it wasn’t very pretty.
The Lakers faced off against the defending champion Golden State Warriors and were roughed up by a score of 123-109. Though the Lakers managed to keep it close early in the game, the Warriors chipped away piece by piece en route to the lopsided victory.
One player that all Lakers fans were watching was veteran guard Russell Westbrook. He began his second season with the Lakers after an offseason of endless rumors and reports about his future with the team.
Former NBA star and current analyst Charles Barkley spoke on the matter on Tuesday, asserting that the Lakers have to move Westbrook.
"It's time for the Lakers to move on… They have taken all his joy out of life and basketball."
Chuck goes off on Russell Westbrook with the Lakers pic.twitter.com/ktevt7J0ns
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 19, 2022
It would be hard for anyone who has been following the team to disagree with Barkley. Based on all of the trade rumors that have taken place over the past year, it’s pretty impossible to believe that Westbrook feels wanted in any way by the team.
While he has maintained a rather high level of professionalism, the 33-year-old may be hurting at an emotional level given how much disrespect he’s faced as a result of his struggles with the Lakers.
Westbrook put in a solid performance on Tuesday night. He finished the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. However, he also coughed the ball up four times.
What was perhaps most promising was his shooting. He finished the night with 58.3 percent shooting from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Last season, he shot 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent from deep.
All in all, it was a good performance.
If he were to continue to perform at this level, that would be a good sign for the Lakers. Only time will tell if that would start to heal the divide that seems to currently exist between the storied franchise and former league MVP.