The partnership between LeBron James and Russell Westbrook has not produced the desired result for the LA Lakers so far this season. The Lakers are sixth in the Western Conference standings with an unimpressive 15-13 record heading into Wednesday night’s game at the Dallas Mavericks.
Being sixth is not what the franchise envisioned, and reports suggest they are looking to make changes before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. Earlier in the week, it was reported the Lakers are interested in the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons and the Detroit Pistons’ Jerami Grant, with Westbrook being the likely candidate to be shipped in a trade deal.
NBA analyst Skip Bayless discussed the rumors about the Lakers having internal discussions on trading Westbrook with Shannon Sharpe, and once again, LeBron James was the man to blame.
“I’m going a 100% LeBron, because you know and I know the buck stops there, with No. 6.”
“He should have 100% say and 100% blame over this. You know and I know, if he had said no, it’s not going to happen.”
After drawing parallels with Michael Jordan and stating he was not great at finding talent and crediting former Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause for saying no to Jordan on occasion, Bayless pointed out that although James had earned the right to make decisions, bringing on Westbrook in the offseason was a bad one.
“Nobody can say no to that guy (LeBron James) in this franchise because he does run it, because he earned the right to run it.”
“I said this was gonna be a disaster. Now, I sit back and say, I’m sure he hasn’t given up on it yet, because we’ve still got a long ways to go. But we see the handwriting and the reports that they (are) having internal discussions about, ‘How can we get out from under this?'”
“I told you from the start, I believe LeBron looked at this two ways, the two-edged sword. He said, ‘If I pull this off, I’ll show the whole NBA world I did something nobody thought I could do.’ If it doesn’t work out, Russ is obviously a lightning rod for criticism.”
“The GOAT always needs a scapegoat. Russ can be the ultimate scapegoat if this thing goes south.”
The Lakers have not come together well as they are not operating as a unit. Regardless, James has said he believes in the ability of the roster, and he loves every guy in the locker room.
How have Russell Westbrook and LeBron James performed together so far?
Building chemistry will undoubtedly take some time, and that has severely impacted the Lakers. Westbrook was brought in to lead the offense if or when James or Anthony Davis are unavailable, but they have not had much success in that regard.
James missed 12 games due to several reasons, including an abdominal strain and a game suspension, but the Lakers looked lost in most of those outings. Without James, they went 5-7, giving up a double-digit lead twice against the lowly OKC Thunder.
Westbrook is capable of so much more, but he is yet to be as impactful as he can be. Understandably, he will take a backseat handling the ball with James on the floor, but when he had his opportunity, he did not take maximum advantage.
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Westbrook has had a rather quiet campaign, averaging 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game, having played all 28 games. James, on the other hand, has been having a historic 19th season, averaging 26.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists. He has also had six 30-point games in his last eight appearances.
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