Report: Lakers have concerns about Russell Westbrook’s ‘playoff viability’

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly have concerns about Russell Westbrook’s “playoff viability” in the 2022-23 season.

“The Lakers are fighting to climb into the top 10 in the Western Conference,” Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus wrote. “While coach Darvin Ham has found a viable role for Westbrook off the bench, the franchise does have concerns about his playoff viability, per multiple sources.”

Westbrook has played well for the Lakers in a bench role, but he still has been loose with the ball and struggles to space the floor for Los Angeles.

Coming into Monday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, Westbrook was shooting just 28.2 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 3.5 turnovers per game. He finished Monday’s game with 17 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, shooting 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

However, that performance came with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis out of the lineup.

The issue for Westbrook’s fit in the Lakers’ rotation is that he is a ball-dominant player, and Los Angeles may not be able to get him the touches he needs to be successful if James and Davis play extended minutes in the postseason.

Since the former MVP has struggled with his outside shot in recent seasons, playing him alongside James and Davis allows opposing defenses to sag off of Westbrook and clog the lane.

In an ideal situation, the Lakers would be able to surround Davis and James with players that can space the floor.

The Lakers could attempt to move Westbrook ahead of the league’s Feb. 9 trade deadline, but they’d likely need to move draft capital as well to get a quality player in return for him.

That makes things complicated, as Los Angeles still is far from being a title contender and is sitting outside the play-in tournament picture as it is this season. The Lakers may not be able to acquire a player that takes them over the top in a Westbrook trade.

If he does remain on the team during the deadline, fans should be somewhat confident in Ham’s ability to integrate Westbrook into any rotation after he successfully moved him to the bench this season.

Los Angeles is 23-28 in the 2022-23 season after losing to Brooklyn on Monday.

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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.