Lakers Make Major Decision on Russell Westbrook’s Future After Adding Dennis Schroder: Report

Dennis Schroder and Marcus Smart guard Russell Westbrook during the 2021-22 season

Getty Dennis Schroder and Marcus Smart guard Russell Westbrook during the 2021-22 season

The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a major decision on Russell Westbrook’s future after adding Dennis Schroder.

According to a September 16th report from Sam Amick and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the prospect of Westbrook coming off the bench is being strongly considered by the Lakers, who acquired Patrick Beverley from the Utah Jazz and signed Schroder in unrestricted free agency.

“With training camp roughly a week away and the team recently conducting players-only workouts at its El Segundo practice facility, the prospect of Westbrook being part of the Lakers’ program — again — is becoming more real by the day. And yes, sources say, that’s still the case after the Friday news from our Shams Charania that veteran point guard Dennis Schröder is returning to the Lakers this season,” Amick and Buha reported. “Yet, while the Lakers have been hopeful the Westbrook experiment might be a success this time, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic that the prospect of Westbrook coming off the bench is being strongly considered.”

Westbrook hasn’t come off the bench in an NBA game since November 28th, 2008, a month into his rookie season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The one-time MVP started 78 games last season and averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The Lakers went 31-47 in Westbrook’s 78 appearances and missed the playoffs.

Darvin Ham Will Have ‘Power’ to Bench Westbrook

According to an August 3rd report from Buha, new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have the power and support from the organization to bench Westbrook, who was second in the NBA in turnovers last season. Buha and Amick reported on September 16th that last season’s coaching staff, led by Frank Vogel, feared they would lose Westbrook if they benched him.

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times wrote on April 8th that Westbrook never respected Vogel, who was fired after the season. Westbrook, the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles, got into a heated argument with Vogel in training camp and things never got better as the 2021-22 season progressed.

When Ham was asked about the possibility of Westbrook coming off the bench during his introductory press conference in early June, Westbrook laughed at the notion. Ham spoke to the local media on September 6th after the Lakers introduced Beverley and the 49-year-old praised Westbrook’s level of buy-in this offseason.

“Everything has been clear and upfront between he and I,” Ham said. “Like, he’s been a pleasure. I’ve been a huge fan throughout his time in the league. He’s a salt of the earth. And again, he wants to win. I want to help him get that championship ring. But it starts here. It starts today. It starts with the buy-in. It starts with supporting your teammates and supporting a vision and doing that and working your butt off day in and day out. Everyone’s quick to look at the destination but you really have to appreciate the journey and respect and embrace the journey. He’s been that since Day 1. Anytime I call him or I need him, text messages. The communication has been great both ways. He’s in here. He’s in here putting in the work. I love him and I can’t wait to coach him and I can’t wait to succeed with him.”

Ham Thinks Westbrook & Beverley Can Play Together; Schroder Excited to Be Back

Ham told reporters on September 6th that he believed Westbrook and Beverley could play together despite having a contentious history. In 2013, Westbrook was dribbling the ball toward his bench to call a timeout when Beverley went for a steal and took out the All-Star’s knee, which led to a meniscus tear and multiple knee surgeries.

“I see them working together fabulously, man,” Ham said. “Their games complement one another. I wouldn’t want to be in a backcourt and deal with these two guys. …If they play defense. We’ve got a while. That’s still a ways off, but definitely. … It’s definitely a bullet in the chamber. We’re looking forward to it, man. Those guys in the backcourt together, man.”

Schroder appeared in 61 games for the purple and gold during the 2020-21 season and averaged 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 43.7% from the field, 33.5% from beyond the arc and 84.8% from the free-throw line. However, the veteran guard struggled in the 2021 playoffs and didn’t get re-signed by LA.

Schroder finished the 2021-22 campaign with averages of 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 64 games with the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. After signing his new deal with the Lakers, the Braunschweig native shared a message on his Instagram page.

Westbrook and Schroder were teammates on the Thunder during the 2018-19 season. They will likely battle in training camp for the starting point guard spot.

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