Tony Kornheiser blasts the Lakers for benching Russell Westbrook: ‘You have to trade him today’

Peter Dewey
2 Min Read

ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser had some harsh criticism for the Los Angeles Lakers after they benched Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers.

“You can’t bring Russell Westbrook to your team, and then bench him in crunch time,” Kornheiser said. “You can’t do that. He’s played in the league for 14 years. He’s going to the Hall of Fame.

“Everybody knows his strengths are his effort, and everybody knows he’s not a good shooter. He’s a great scorer. He’s not a good shooter.

“You can’t humiliate him and say he’s not as valuable because he didn’t play defense as Malik Monk. You can’t – you have to trade him today, Mike [Wilbon]. You have to trade him today. You have to buy him out or do something because if you’re the coach of that team, and Russell Westbrook is not on the floor in crunch time, you either can’t be the coach or you can’t have Russell Westbrook.

“I hold [Rob] Pelinka responsible. I hold [Frank] Vogel responsible. I hold LeBron James responsible. And now we’re going to wait and see what LeBron James as GM does with Russell Westbrook.”

Vogel, who is on the hot seat himself, appeared to be trying to fix the Lakers’ defensive woes against the Pacers by benching Westbrook on Wednesday.

While Kornheiser makes a good point about Westbrook’s track record, the former MVP has struggled this season.

Westbrook is averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Unless Westbrook turns things around, the Lakers are going to need to find another solution if they want to make a deep playoff run in the 2021-22 season.

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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.