Stephen A. Smith says Russell Westbrook has been asset off bench and should stay in L.A. for rest of season

Jonathan Sherman
3 Min Read

The NBA trade deadline this season is just two days away, and a lot of people are expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to try to offload former MVP guard Russell Westbrook.

However, according to Stephen A. Smith, the Lakers should seriously consider keeping Westbrook based on how well he has produced coming off the bench for most of the current season.

“I’m not moving Russell Westbrook,” he said. “Now, if there’s locker room issues that we don’t know about, I got you. What I’ve seen from Russell Westbrook on the court coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers, how I see him cheering on his teammates when they do good things on the basketball court, I gotta tell you something. Listen, Russell Westbrook has taken a lot of hits over the years because people have intimated or leaned towards quote/unquote ‘selfishness’ and all of this other — that’s not what I’m seeing. Maybe I’m wrong. That’s not what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a brother that always plays, always plays a hundred percent, never cheats the game, and oh, by the way, by the way, he’s playing well coming off the bench.”

Smith continued to explain that the Lakers could “easily” have several more wins this season than they currently do, but have fallen victim to some questionable situations in a number of close games that have led to losses.

He directly referenced the overtime loss to the Boston Celtics last month in which LeBron James was clearly fouled at the end of regulation despite no whistle being blown. It seems that Smith is implying that if those games had gone the Lakers’ way, folks would realize that the team isn’t in bad shape.

As things stand now, the Lakers are just 3.5 games back from the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. If the Lakers had four or five more wins this season, they’d be right in the playoff conversation in the West.

But they’re not in that conversation right now. Instead, they’re sitting in the No. 13 spot in the conference. Fair or not, Westbrook has become a scapegoat for a lot of Lakers fans and media pundits alike.

When it comes to his production on the court, Westbrook has maintained some solid numbers and will likely be in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation by the season’s end if he remains in the same role on the Lakers.

He’s putting up 15.7 points, 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game so far this season.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.