LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he and his staff have discussed the possibility of moving perennial All-Star Russell Westbrook out of the starting lineup.
“We’ve talked about everything,’’ Vogel said Thursday night after the Lakers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 132-111.
Is that something that could be seen at some point?
“We’ve talked about everything,’’ Vogel said.
Vogel made it clear he and his staff are desperately searching for solutions after his team dropped to eight games below .500 at 27-35 following their fourth loss in a row and seventh loss in eight games.
The Lakers’ coach already has shown his willingness to sit Westbrook on the bench late in games, and the Lakers’ guard clearly was unhappy when it happened last.
Although Westbrook has averaged 18.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Lakers, it’s been a tough season for the nine-time All-Star. In addition to piling up turnovers – he’s fifth in the league with 4.0 per game – he has struggled find a rhythm on the court.
“My role and what I’m doing has changed every single night, so I’m just trying to figure that out as I’m playing to be able to benefit to help my team,’’ he said.
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At the beginning of the season, LeBron James and Westbrook said their chemistry on the court was a work in progress. On Thursday night, when asked about that dynamic and efforts to get Westbrook comfortable, Vogel said, “We’re trying to coach the whole team. We’re trying to find solutions that are best for the team. And that’s everything that we’re doing.
“If we’re getting down 20 every night, we’re going to adjust our team.’’
Westbrook, who scored 17 points Thursday night, engaged in a sometimes tense back-and-forth with a reporter after the loss. The exchange started when the reporter asked Westbrook if it was difficult to process what’s happening during the Lakers’ disappointing season given what Westbrook, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony imagined would happen when they joined forces with the Lakers.
Westbrook: “What did I envision?’’
Reporter: “I would imagine some wins.”
Westbrook: “I mean you said based on what I envisioned. I want to know what you think I envisioned.’’
The reporter said he would have thought Westbrook envisioned at least a championship.
“Is the season over?’’ Westbrook shot back.
“It certainly isn’t,’’ the reporter conceded.
Westbrook went on to say he had no expectations when he joined the Lakers, his fourth team in four seasons. He also emphasized he won’t be giving up with 20 games left in the regular season and the Lakers in danger of missing the play-in game.
“I’m not a quitter,’’ Westbrook said, “It’s not in my genes. I don’t quit, regardless of what the hell going on. I’m going to fight till the end of if it don’t work, it’s cool, too. I can live with the results.
“But I’m never going to give up or give in because of a little struggle that’s happening this time of the year.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lakers discuss using Russell Westbook off the bench to break slump