Report: Concerns inside Lakers persist that Russell Westbrook doesn’t complement LeBron James

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

There are reportedly concerns inside the Los Angeles Lakers that guard Russell Westbrook doesn’t complement superstar LeBron James enough if the team makes the postseason.

The Lakers have moved Westbrook to the bench this season, where he’s thrived in a sixth man role, but it may not be enough for the team to keep him on the roster through the trade deadline.

“But concerns persist internally that Westbrook doesn’t complement LeBron James and that the mix of stars may not work in the postseason when rotations shorten,” Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus wrote. “The Lakers also have guards Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn (all three expiring contracts) as trade pieces for a smaller deal—or with Westbrook in a potential blockbuster.”

Obviously, the Lakers would need to get a solid package in return for Westbrook and any draft capital that they would move in such a deal.

However, it seems the team is concerned with how the two will fit on the court together if Westbrook and James both see an uptick in usage if the team is in the postseason.

Since moving to the bench, Westbrook has really found his game, averaging 14.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists in a career-low 28.3 minutes per game.

There’s no doubt that Westbrook lacks the outside shooting presence to fit perfectly alongside James, but he has taken his role in stride since moving to the bench.

The Lakers have also played better after a horrible 2-10 start, winning nine of their last 15 games. James missed some time during that stretch with an adductor strain, but Anthony Davis and Westbrook both stepped up.

Los Angeles wants to improve the roster around James and Davis for a playoff run, especially since the team is still outside the playoff picture through its first 27 games. The Lakers currently hold the No. 12 spot in the Western Conference, but they are just 2.5 games out of a play-in tournament position.

If the Lakers aren’t comfortable with Westbrook being on the team late in the 2022-23 season, then the team will need to ramp up trade conversations to get a decent return for him. That would likely mean moving at least one of the team’s first-round picks in the 2027 and 2029 drafts.

The trade market for Westbrook could become clearer over the next month or two as teams fall out of the playoff chase in their respective conferences.

Luckily, the Lakers still have a lot of time before the trade deadline to truly assess if Westbrook and James can play together and win in a playoff setting.

Share This Article
Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.