Things are getting awkward for the Los Angeles Lakers and the team has about 24 hours to explore significant changes ahead of the NBA trade deadline. After the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Bucks, a moment from the bench went viral featuring the team’s three stars.
Russell Westbrook approached LeBron James and Anthony Davis who were seated together on the bench and appeared to try to offer some words of encouragement. Neither James or Davis looked enthused and the Lakers superstar discussed the moment while offering his overall assessment of Westbrook’s tenure so far in L.A.
“Listen, I want to help A.D., I want to help Russ,” James told reporters on February 9. “A.D. want to help me, help Russ and Russ want to help us. And obviously, you know, lately Russ hasn’t felt like he’s had an opportunity or with opportunities he’s been given, he hasn’t helped us as much as he would like.
“We haven’t done a great job of helping him. But, at the end of the day, it has always kind of started with myself and A.D. and Russ joined the team as well, so. We just had a little moment right there and understanding that [there’s] still a lot of basketball to be played.
“There’s still an opportunity for us to make a mark on this season, but it’s going to take some. …It’s going to take a lot, it’s going to take a lot. But nothing is worth having if it’s not worth working for, so we look forward to it.”
Here is a look at the awkward moment the three stars shared that has Lakers fans buzzing.
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Lakers Players Want to See Changes to the Roster: Report
All signs point to James playing a key role in the Lakers’ decision to trade for Westbrook on draft night. Yet, there appears to be a change in tone among the Lakers players about the trajectory of the team. James admitted he does not see the Lakers getting to the level of the Bucks this season.
During previous months, James, Davis and Westbrook have all emphasized the team simply needs more time on the floor together. After the loss to the Bucks, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that Lakers players no longer see this team as a winning roster and “feel urgency” to make changes.
“While Los Angeles is 10-8 in those games, standing pat and hoping that winning percentage improves to finish the season strong is not seen as a viable option by players on the team, sources told ESPN,” McMenamin detailed on February 9.
“It remains to be seen what Los Angeles can accomplish on the trade market with the players it has. Outside of the Lakers’ Big Three, every player on the roster is signed to a minimum deal other than Talen Horton-Tucker (in the first year of a three-year, $30.3 million deal) and Kendrick Nunn (in the first year of a two-year, $10.3 million deal with a player option for the second year).
“James had a hand in Los Angeles’ roster construction in the offseason, consulting with Rob Pelinka, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager, on everything from the Westbrook trade with the Washington Wizards to free-agent signings, sources told ESPN. Pelinka will continue to collaborate with James leading up to the deadline in an attempt to improve the Lakers’ chances of a deep run this season, sources told ESPN.”
Westbrook on Viral Moment: ‘Just Give ‘Em Encouragement’
After the Lakers’ February 8 loss to the Bucks, Westbrook explained the brief interaction he had with the other Lakers stars. The point guard hinted at being frustrated that he was not on the floor in the final minutes to help James and Davis.
“Just give ’em encouragement, just keep their head up, keep playing, tough night,” Westbrook explained the exchange during his postgame press conference. “And I told them, I wish I could help them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the game to be able to help them, and that’s why I came here to be able to help them out.
“So, unfortunately I haven’t been able to do that for them, but that’s not my call. I can be there as a leader and as a voice of whatever it is that is needed for the team, and that’s what I’ll do until my number or whatever is called during that time.”