The Los Angeles Lakers are watching Russell Westbrook’s career prospects plummet at the moment, and it seems to have to do with a lot more than him just falling out of his prime.
Westbrook looks out of sorts on the court and does not seem to be operating with a lot of confidence or enjoyment.
In fact, Los Angeles Clippers guard John Wall, who has certainly dealt with his own adversity in his career, recently went so far as to say that he believes that Westbrook is playing basketball without joy.
“And what he’s going through is tough,” he told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “You can tell he don’t have the joy right now.”
It’s a simple yet insightful analysis of what is plaguing Westbrook at the moment. It’s clear that he is no longer the player who averaged triple-doubles in four of five seasons starting with the 2016-17 campaign. However, countless players have managed to transition into a different kind of career after exiting their prime years.
Westbrook seems unwilling, or unable, to accept that he is no longer the star talent he once was. At the moment, he is averaging a career-worst 10.3 points and 4.3 assists per game. There are no signs that his numbers or performance on the court are going to get better anytime soon.
At this point, it seems practically inevitable that Westbrook will be moved by the Lakers prior to the trade deadline. The team has reportedly made it a point to work with the current roster for the first 20 games of this season before revisiting the trade market, but that timeline may have to be expedited if the Lakers keep losing in bunches.
If the Lakers continue their current trend, their 2022-23 season may be all but lost by the time 20 games are in the books.
Of course, if Westbrook is somehow not moved, he will likely play out the rest of the season with the Lakers before becoming a free agent in the summer. If that comes to pass, it is hard to imagine he’ll have many options when it comes to signing deals with other teams in the league.
If Westbrook is ultimately moved, it will be worth it to keep an eye on whether or not his overall demeanor changes. If it doesn’t, he could be out of the league all together rather quickly.