Lakers fans, are you comfortable with another season of Russell Westbrook in the Forum blue and gold?
It looks more and more like the Lakers are comfortable (to use the words of Dan Woike of the LA Times) with the idea of at least starting the season with him. After spending the summer pursuing a trade that sent Westbrook out of town (they haven’t stopped, but a deal seems unlikely in the near term), the Lakers are ready to head into training camp with Westbrook in a key role. The latest reports in this direction come from Marc Stein, who reports that Westbrook will attend LeBron James’ traditional preseason minicamp.
Word is that another Lakers minicamp is likely in the next few days, and that Russell Westbrook will indeed attend if he does. Any kind of pre-camp gathering involving LeBron and his fellow purple-and-gold vets would represent a key step in the Lakers’ efforts to overcome all the tension throughout last season’s rocky 33-49 campaign, bringing them James and Anthony Davis along with Westbrook and newly acquired Patrick Beverley before the Lakers report for their first practices under new coach Darvin Ham on Sept. 26.
And no, the Lakers aren’t going to do to Westbrook what the Rockets did to John Wall last season and ask him to leave the team.
…two well-placed sources told me with even more conviction that the Lakers are leaning heavily against the idea of sending Westbrook home a la John Wall to Houston last season in case they can’t find a trade for him. Sources say Hamm is determined to create a real role for Westbrook if he remains a Laker.
Westbrook and his Lakers teammates are trying to heal any wounds from last season and beyond, including Westbrook and Patrick Beverley speaking out recently (their beef goes back nearly a decade).
Starting with new head coach Darwin Hamm in his initial press conference to team owner/governor Jeanie Buss via this Beverley Tweet, everyone with the Lakers said the right things about bringing Westbrook back and finding him a role that works . As with all teams heading into the season, everyone is optimistic and vowing to do whatever it takes to win.
However, saying all the right things and doing them can be two different things. Two big questions hang over the Lakers and Westbrook this season:
First, will Westbrook willingly accept a role? In clutch minutes is he willing to be a decoy in the corner or work out of the dunker spot so the lane isn’t crowded for LeBron or Anthony Davis? On a related note, how well will Westbrud defend and what happens the first time Hamm bench him in the clutch to get Beverley and better defenders on the field?
Second, what happens when adversity strikes? Anyone who says the right thing can quickly become a finger-pointer when the losses pile up. The Lakers’ first six games include the defending champion Warriors, a finally healthy Clippers team that is one of the favorites to make it out of the West, two games with Nikola Jokic and the finally healthy Nuggets, plus the improving Timberwolves. How does everyone in the locker room react if the Lakers get off to a slow start?
The Lakers will also have other questions to answer, including whether Westbrook will be with the team after the deadline — but if they don’t answer those about Westbrook’s integration through good times and bad, it will be another long season in Los Angeles.
See more about the Lakers
The Jazz are reportedly not done looking to trade Bogdanovic, others. Lakers interested in Jazz reportedly trade Donovan Mitchell to Cavaliers for Sexton, Markkanen,… Report: Knicks’ Reddish wants ‘change of scenery’, Lakers…
Westbrook reportedly participating in LeBron’s preseason mini-camp, being with Lakers to open camp originally appeared on NBCSports.com