Russell Westbrook Broke Silence on Getting Benched by Frank Vogel and His Putrid Play With Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel benched point guard Russell Westbrook for the final four minutes of the team’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. The one-time MVP didn’t speak to the media postgame, and many assumed he was furious with Vogel.

Westbrook has played poorly in his first season with the Lakers. He has an effective field goal percentage of 46.6 and leads the league in turnovers. According to ESPN, Vogel had management authorization to bench Westbrook against the Pacers, a clear sign the Lakers know they made a mistake acquiring the All-Star guard from the Washington Wizards.

For what it’s worth, though, Westbrook remains undeterred about figuring out how to help the Lakers win in the long run despite getting benched by Vogel.

Russell Westbrook opens up about getting benched

Westbrook told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that he was disappointed with his fourth-quarter benching versus the Pacers. However, he’s still going to try everything in his power to make this work and help the Lakers win the championship.

“Surprised, yes. I was disappointed I didn’t go back in, but I’m more disappointed that we lost the damn game,” Westbrook said. “I want to be able to be on the floor to help my teammates and be able to help our team win in games like that — but that was a decision that was made. Ultimately, you have to be OK when s— doesn’t go well, and I’m OK. I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me here, and I’ll continue to do so and ride this out as long as we can toward our ultimate goal — and that’s to win a championship. We obviously haven’t been fully healthy, but I’m committed to making this thing work. The communication is there with everybody in the organization to make this thing work, to make this team we all want it to be in the future.”

Westbrook is averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists on the season while shooting 43.3% from the field, 30.4% from beyond the arc, and 66.8% from the free-throw line. He has a plus-minus of -80 and 188 turnovers. If the playoffs started today, the Lakers would be in the play-in tournament.

However, Westbrook is confident his putrid play won’t continue as the season progresses.

Russell Westbrook: “I’ll have to be better — and I know that I will be”

Westbrook believes he will play to his full potential soon. The Lakers are his fourth team in four years, so he’s been asked to adjust his game a lot.

“I think it’s important to know that part of the process of being on a new team is that there are going to be a lot of ups and downs and struggles throughout a season,” Westbrook said. “It’s been a challenge for the last three years — just trying to figure things out. I lean on a lot of my faith to be able to stay locked in on my craft and work my a– off and find ways to make situations work. The challenge is how to be the version of myself for this team, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I want to get better as the season goes on, and I’ve got to take responsibility for the things I’m doing and how I’m making those around me better. We have a legitimate chance to be able to win it all, and to do that, I’ll have to be better — and I know that I will be.”

Westbrook has proven to be a terrible fit next to LeBron James since he can’t shoot. He also has struggled to finish at the rim when he has gotten past his defender and exploded to the basket. Lakers fans were excited when the franchise acquired the future Hall of Famer since he’s from California, but Westbrook has shown nothing this season that warrants praise.

The Lakers would likely love to trade Westbrook before the 2022 trade deadline passes. However, that’s easier said than done.

Mr. Triple Double is making too much money

Not only has Westbrook played inadequately this season, but he’s also making $44.2 million. The NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles has a player option worth $47.1 million for next season, and there’s a zero percent chance he will decline it.

The Lakers are stuck with Westbrook. No team will trade for him after watching how poor he’s been in Los Angeles. LeBron and Co. have to hope that Westbrook plays better, but the former Oklahoma City Thunder star is who he is as a player at this stage of his career. He won’t develop a jump shot or stop being erratic with the ball in his hands overnight.

If the Lakers don’t fire Vogel, it will be interesting to track his relationship with Westbrook moving forward after the benching. Things will either get worse or magically better.

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