It’s no secret that Los Angeles Lakers Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley are sworn adversaries playing on the same team.
With the Lakers scrambling for an offensive and defensive identity and viable free-agent pickups this offseason, they made the mistake of signing Beverley without first unloading Westbrook.
The team is starting to get hints of the friction between these two scrappy guards.
During Wednesday night’s preseason matchup between the Lakers and Timberwolves, Beverley called for the starters on the floor for a quick huddle after Westbrook committed a foul.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker IV joined Beverley in the huddle. Pat called Westbrook to join, but Russ appeared to be entirely checked out.
Westbrook left his teammates hanging multiple times on Wednesday. Russ was several feet away during the team’s pre-game huddle, appearing unengaged. He was wiping his face with a towel and wandering away from the rest of the Lakers players.
Lakers and general manager Rob Pelinka spent most of the offseason trying to find the right deal to trade away Westbrook.
The Lakers’ interest in trading the nine-time All-Star (and his $40 million contract) was a public ordeal all summer. LA failed to find Westbrook a proper role last season, and his relationship with LeBron James isn’t quite simpatico.
Add Beverley in the mix, and Lakers fans should practically brace for more flare-ups with these players.
Not All Russell Westbrook’s Fault; Lakers are Delirious
Part of the blame goes to the Lakers’ terrible upper-level management. Along with Pelinka’s failure to find apt talent around his main stars.
Westbrook was an effective all-around guard last season — averaging 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists — but the apparent lack of a gameplan for RW, or finding the best way to utilize the current roster, begs the question of whether the Lakers stand a chance to make the postseason in 2022-23.
Speak to any Lakers fan and the conversation pivots to which star player they’ll (miraculously) land via trade, which will really turn things around.
Los Angeles now sits with a rookie head coach, 37-year-old superstar, disgruntled $40 million player and injury-prone No. 2 man on the team as their hope for an improved season this upcoming year. Oh, and Austin Reaves too, I guess … Good luck with that.
The Lakers lost the preseason matchup against the T-Wolves, 118-113. Los Angeles opens the season against the Golden State Warriors on Oct. 18.