It’s been a quick fall from grace for Russell Westbrook. The former NBA MVP was once considered one of the great players in the league just a year ago. After a season with the Los Angeles Lakers, opinions of the guard can’t get lower.
The team has been trying to trade him since back before the trade deadline last season. They are now actively trying to trade him this offseason. The problem is that nobody wants him. In fact, the Lakers will have to attach assets just for a team to take Westbrook off their hands.
The guard still has talent and could be an impact player in the right role. However, he’s never proven that he’d be willing to accept a lesser role. Unless he proves that he’s willing to make significant sacrifices, Tim Bontemps of ESPN believes that Westbrook’s career could be over after the season.
“He might be out of the league after the Lakers,” Bontemps said on “The Hoop Collective” podcast.
Fellow ESPN insider Tim McMahon went even further and said the Dallas Mavericks are one team that has already made up its mind about Westbrook.
“Dallas said hell no when asked about signing Russ … he can play for the Ducks in China,” McMahon said.
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Is Westbrook’s Career Really in Danger?
Bontemps is not wrong in his assumption that Westbrook’s career is on the line. He proved last season with the Lakers that his presence can make a team worse, not better. Not many teams are going to sign up for that experience.
Westbrook will never sniff a max contract again but he’s in serious danger of not being able to get any contract. He can still be an effective player but not many teams are eager to sign players who just put up empty stats. He has one last chance to prove that he can adjust his game this season. Westbrook is as stubborn as they come so it’s hard to believe that he’ll change until he actually proves it.
Westbrook Compared to Allen Iverson
Westbrook is far from the first star who either had to change his game or end his NBA career early. Allen Iverson is the easiest comparison to make. Similar to Westbrook, he won an MVP and wowed with his athletic ability on the basketball court. However, he was never a selfless player who would make big sacrifices to win.
Due to that, Iverson’s career ended relatively early in comparison to his star power. Kendrick Perkins, a former teammate of Westbrook’s on the Oklahoma City Thunder, believes that the guard could be headed down the same path as Iverson.
While things are grim for Westbrook, it’s not impossible that he could reinvent himself. Carmelo Anthony, a teammate of Westbrook’s on the Lakers last season, had to accept a similar reality just a few years ago. He spent years as one of the best players in the NBA but teams didn’t want him once he was no longer playing like a superstar. He accepted that and became a role player. Thanks to that, he’s extended his career. Westbrook could do the same but it’s going to be difficult to convince him.