The Los Angeles Lakers have not put together a great offseason. Until they get off Russell Westbrook, it’s difficult to see how they have a path to being contenders. A trade for Kyrie Irving was supposed to save the team but that won’t be happening this year.
Despite not being able to land the star guard, the Lakers continue to explore paths to get off Westbrook. That’s proving difficult as his contract is one of the worst in the NBA. Luckily, he’s only got one year left so some team will eventually be willing to take him on. If he does get traded to a team like the Utah Jazz or Indiana Pacers, there’s a strong chance that he’s either waived or bought out. That would be a disaster for Westbrook.
The former MVP has proven to be rigid and difficult to coach. Longtime sports analyst Bill Simmons believes that Westbrook could be done in the NBA if he’s traded and let go.
“If that trade did happen … I think he’s out of the league,” Simmons said on “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” “I’m not saying that in the Skip Bayless way. I just think he’s the rare kind of guy where if you’re a tanking team or a lottery team, why would you bring him in? All he’s gonna do is try to play 40 minutes a game and put up stats and make you more competitive.
“If you’re a playoff team, I can’t think of a playoff team that he would be additive to. He’s not gonna want to come off the bench.”
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Has Westbrook Played Last NBA Game?
If Simmons is correct in his assessment, there’s a scenario in which Westbrook will never play an NBA game ever again. That would be a shocking fall from grace for a player an MVP five years ago. He’s also just 33 years old and didn’t have any serious injury issues last year.
The problem with Westbrook is that he can no longer be the best player on a contender and might not be able to be the second or third-best player on one either. His style of play doesn’t jive well with others and he’s never shown that he can be coachable. If the Lakers trade him, there’s a strong chance he doesn’t play in the NBA this upcoming season. Unless he shows that he’s willing to change his game, he could be done in the NBA.
What Westbrook Needs to Do to Salvage Career
Westbrook is as hard-headed as any player in the NBA. When the idea of him coming off the bench was brought up to head coach Darvin Ham at his introductory press conference, the guard laughed at the idea. Little things like that show that he’s not willing to adapt to be successful.
Perhaps he was humbled last year and will finally accept that he has to be a role player to continue in the NBA but it’s hard to imagine that’s the case. Westbrook is who he is and even if he shows small signs of adaptibility, it’s fair to question if it will last.
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