Los Angeles Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook isn’t quite finished with hinting at disagreement with Frank Vogel and the Lakers coaching staff.
When ESPN reported in early March that the Lakers organization was pressuring Frank Vogel to demote Russell Westbrook from the starting lineup, Vogel maintained that there was enough time for Westbrook to turn his season around the way he did with the Washington Wizards.
A month later, Vogel turned out to be right. Although the Lakers lost a critical game to the Denver Nuggets, Westbrook fared better than he has most of the season, scoring 27 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Vogel’s praise followed Westbrook’s improvement.
“Russ has been great. I’m proud of Russ,” Vogel said. “He’s leading us, LeBron goes out, AD goes out, he’s always in there. He’s very engaged in the game plans and intelligence piece of what needs to happen on coverages and offensive action. He’s doing everything he can for this franchise and for our group to try to get over hump. I’m proud of Russ.”
But it might be too little, too late as far as Westbrook is concerned. Following the Nuggets game, Westbrook acknowledged the Lakers’ sentiments towards him by saying that “they’ve done things that they felt was best for our team.”
“And I’ll leave it at that,” Westbrook added.
Russell Westbrook appears unhappy with coaching attitude concerning his game
Westbrook’s quote is a clear callback to what Vogel said earlier this season when he benched Westbrook for the final four minutes of a Lakers-Pacers game.
Although Westbrook has been improving late in the season, the Lakers have still been on a six-game losing streak, putting them at No. 11 in the Western Conference with a 31-47.
This is not the kind of season Los Angeles bargained for when they traded for Westbrook, a decision that has had a disastrous ripple effect throughout the 2021-22 season.
With Westbrook not performing as expected, LeBron James and Anthony Davis out for significant time with injuries, and the inability to improve their roster by the trade deadline, the Lakers have been stuck for months. Even if Westbrook is improving now, it might be too late to save them a playoff spot—and perhaps for Westbrook, it might be too late for Vogel to remain in his good graces.