Lakers Bench Russell Westbrook; Time For Major Change?

Los Angeles Lakers, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, NBA Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

Things seem to be hitting a breaking point with the Los Angeles Lakers. Frustration is mounting as the team is 22-23 on the NBA season. Reality is beginning to set in that this isn’t a roster built to win a championship.

In the team’s game on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers, a big change occurred. Head coach Frank Vogel, who is coaching for his job on a nightly basis, benched starting point guard Russell Westbrook.

Vogel was given assurances from the organization that they would provide support with him should he go through with the decision to bench Westbrook. It is something that the staff has been toying with doing for a while and on Wednesday they finally pulled the trigger.

With three minutes and 52 seconds remaining in the game, Vogel opted to bench Westbrook for Malik Monk. Westbrook went to the locker room early, leaving the court with 8.4 seconds remaining and leaving before talking to the media.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: These 3 Trade Packages Would End Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Problem

When asked about the decision to bench Westbrook, Vogel provided a straightforward answer.

“Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game,” he said.

Russell Westbrook struggled mightily, shooting 5-of-17 from the field. However, it is not his offense that has peeved the coaching staff. Instead, it is his performance defensively, as he has been a sieve throughout the season and things came to a head-on Wednesday against the Pacers.

Westbrook was defending Caris LeVert at the top of the key. While going over the scouting report, it was emphasized that the Lakers need to take away LeVert’s right hand. Westbrook didn’t execute that, allowing LeVert to blow by him and finish an easy layup.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: These 3 Trade Packages Would End Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Problem

Breakdowns like that have occurred too frequently with Westbrook this season. There have been numerous instances he loses a player and leaves them wide open for jump shots as well.

The biggest change that the Lakers could make is trading Westbrook, but that is highly unlikely to occur. But, we could certainly see more situations late in games that Vogel opts to bench his starting point guard in favor of someone else.

LATEST NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: These 3 Trade Packages Would End Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Problem

Russell Westbrook is far from the sole issue the Los Angeles Lakers are facing. Not having Anthony Davis in the lineup hurts as well. But, if Vogel and his staff continue to see lapses, especially defensively, from Westbrook, he could see his playing time cut back.