The Lakers have problems, of course; a 17-19 record for one of the NBA title favorites is well below average.
But his most public issue remains Russell Westbrook, who has come under fire for his performances at a time when the 2020 champions really need him.
Westbrook, who signed through 2023 to a maximum contract of $ 91 million ($ A126 million), was hired as the superstar to take the team to the next level, but so far it has been a failed move amid chemical problems.
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Fri, Dec 31
Friday December 31
The Lakers have lost six of their last seven games, albeit amid several Covid-19 absences and with Anthony Davis (knee) out of the game, to rank seventh in the West.
His latest deficiency came to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday (all-time AEDT), where despite leading by 13 points late in the third quarter, he collapsed in the final stanza to fall 104-99.
Westbrook had a triple-double, but committed five costly turnovers, including one in the last minute of the tight fourth quarter, and also missed an open layup late in the game.
While Westbrook always fills up the stat sheet, his mistakes have proven costly and aren’t what you would expect from a top-level superstar and former MVP.
Blocked at the Lakers Podcast hosts Brian and Andy Kamenetzky highlighted how his limitations, particularly in the fourth quarters, have been felt the most with so many sidelined players.
“Russ has very strong and important mistakes. Mistakes and moments of high leverage have been a major problem for Russ throughout the year, ”said Brian Kamenetzky after the Lakers’ loss to the Grizzlies.
“Their numbers in the fourth quarter are not always very good and they were bad again on Thursday.
“They (the Lakers) have to find other guys, particularly if Westbrook is not going to be an elite superstar, the kind of thing that will get you into the fourth quarter.”
The numbers tell the story of how poor Westbrook’s game has been in the fourth quarter for the Lakers’ last 15 games. Its net rating in the third quarter was positive to 15.4, but in the fourth quarter it fell to almost minus 19, according to Kamenetzky.
“The fourth quarter that Russ brings you the question feels very risky these days. It’s not that I haven’t had good rooms before, but the problem is that you don’t feel comfortable with what’s going to happen, ”said Andy Kemenetzky.
“LeBron (James) had a couple of critical turnovers in the fourth quarter, but don’t worry about LeBron in the fourth quarter.
“As much as we’ve talked all season about Anthony Davis not really putting his stamp on this team the way we wanted to, I also don’t care about him in the fourth quarter.
“Russ feels like the proverbial Forrest Gump box of chocolates that you never know what you’re going to get. Maybe you can get by with that when you have LeBron and AD out there. “
Andy Kemenetzky also took aim at Westbrook’s shy body language and media treatment after the loss to Memphis, something for which he has been known throughout his career.
“He does this periodically after frustrating losses,” he said.
“After a bad loss, he goes into this mode where he gives as short an answer as humanly possible without going silent, while playing on his phone. There was a lot of that happening. “
Fans around the world also questioned Westbrook’s game against the Grizzlies, as ‘Trade Russ’ was trending on Twitter Thursday.
Several other journalists and US media outlets on the platform questioned his recent performances and his overall fit with the Lakers.
It comes after Westbrook earlier this week ignored criticism of his game.
“Honestly, I think I’ve been fine,” he said. “The conversation has been very focused on how I’m playing and what I’m doing, but I think people expect me to be f *** king 25, 15 and 15, which, that’s not normal. Everybody has to understand that this is not something normal that people do constantly. “
Shannon Sharpe of Fox Sports US objected to Westbrook’s comments, calling for the nine-time All-Star to stop “playing out of control.”
“You don’t get it,” Sharpe said in Indisputable on Tuesday. “The Lakers are the ninth seed in the West. They were one of the favorites to win the conference.
“They’re the ninth seeded and Russ says, ‘I’m fine.’ Everybody wants me to be 25-15-15, nobody thinks that. Nobody wants that. They want you to stop flipping the ball, especially in crucial situations.
“They want you to stop playing so out of control as normal. That is normal for you. You say 25-15-15 is not normal. The normal thing is that he turns the ball at high speed. You are playing out of control most of the time. You’re taking terrible shots most of the time. That’s what the Lakers nation wants you to (not) do. “