During the 2021-22 NBA season, one of the bigger issues that existed for the Los Angeles Lakers was the uncertainty of how to utilize point guard Russell Westbrook.
As part of that dilemma, there seemed to be a fair amount of contention when it came to whether or not Westbrook belonged on the court in crunch time. Though Westbrook surely sees himself as a closer, he often made mistakes last season that cost the Lakers at the end of close contests.
It looks like that might not be an issue in the upcoming campaign, as new head coach Darvin Ham will reportedly have more power to bench Westbrook at the end of games if he desires to do so.
“Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook down the stretch of games, according to league sources,” Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported. “(Former head coach Frank Vogel did so a few times last season). That could eventually extend to removing Westbrook from the starting lineup as well.”
The ongoing Westbrook saga in L.A. has been anything but smooth. Though he finished last season with solid stats, many felt that he was a detriment to his team more often than not. He posted 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in 78 contests last season.
The Lakers have been rumored to be interested in offloading Westbrook for a while. Though there have been a lot of trade rumors involving the former MVP this offseason, nothing has materialized yet.
At the moment, it looks like the unhappy pairing will extend into the 2022-23 regular season. Hopefully, Ham can find a way to utilize Westbrook in a way that helps the team and its fans move past the embarrassment of last season.