Russell Westbrook has had a star-crossed tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers since being traded to the team ahead of last season. The Lakers won only 33 games a year ago amid injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but the season was mostly remembered for Westbrook’s increasingly lengthy lowlight reel. The former MVP found himself in trade rumors throughout the offseason as he entered the final year of his contract, but the Lakers still haven’t pulled the trigger on a deal. Instead, Westbrook was moved to the bench, where he’s been a little bit better but still isn’t a perfect fit.
The Lakers lost again, this time to the Sacramento Kings, 116-111 on Wednesday night. Westbrook was not the problem in this game: he scored 19 points off the bench on 8-of-17 shooting, and even made 2-of-5 from three-point range. Westbrook also authored the game’s most memorable moment: after initially rising to fire a three-pointer, Russ had second thoughts and decided to throw the ball off Sacramento’s Kevin Huerter. That’s one way to avoid a travel call.
Russell Westbrook as a laker summed up in one play pic.twitter.com/G5dIZ48imP— َ (@ReavesWrld) January 19, 2023
It isn’t uncommon to see a player throw the ball off the opposing team as a way to keep it from going out of bounds, but it isn’t often you see someone do it to avoid a traveling call. Westbrook realized in mid-air that he didn’t want to take the shot, so tossing it off Huerter was his best option.
The Lakers are now 20-25 after the loss. The New Orleans Pelicans can swap draft picks with them, and right now LA’s selection would enter the lottery at No. 8 overall. If you think this season is bad for the Lakers now, just imagine how it will feel if they land the No. 1 pick and give up the rights to Victor Wembanyama.
Either way, there’s only a few months left for the Westbrook experience in LA. That’s best for everyone involved.