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Russell Westbrook has officially been benched. The Los Angeles Lakers guard, who has started since his rookie season in 2008, will play on the team’s second unit for their preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
This doesn’t appear to just be a preseason situation, either.
The Lakers are reportedly treating this as a test to see if Westbrook coming off the bench makes sense in the regular season as well.
From a pure basketball sense, Westbrook coming off the bench makes sense. This isn’t 24-year-old Westbrook we’re talking about anymore, he doesn’t shoot the rock or defend like he used to. However, he needs the ball in his hands in order to be successful. If he was the No. 1 guy coming off of the bench, especially if LeBron James comes off the court in that scenario, he’ll get plenty of the ball.
On the flip side, Westbrook has an ego like every other NBA player. On top of that ego, he has a cap hit of $47 million. Guys who make $47 million a season don’t typically like coming off of the bench, but he seems open to the idea.
“I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook told Adrian Wojnarowski ahead of training camp. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
Saying he’s happy to come off the bench and actually doing it are two completely different things, and only time will tell how this situation unfolds.
The preseason hasn’t been too kind to Westbrook as he’s shooting 38.9% from the field and averaging just over seven points per contest.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter: @itismarkharris
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