To Rick Butcher
FOX Sports NBA Writer
somehow Russell Westbrook Come to think of it, he’ll have to prove he’s not Carmelo Anthony this season.
Not Carmelo Anthony, who played with me last season in Los Angeles, but Carmelo Anthony, who I played with in Oklahoma City five seasons ago.
That Carmelo Anthony arrived in Oklahoma fresh off his 10th consecutive All-Star appearance, one year after being voted into the All-NBA Third Team. (Westbrook was stripped of All-NBA eligibility for a year. first time– Team voting and MVP consideration)
Anthony was 33 (Westbrook turns 34 this fall).
That Carmelo Anthony wasn’t ready to hand him over franchise star card of Supporting role 1. (Westbrook said of last season, “I was never given a fair chance just to be the person I needed to help this team.”)
After one season with the Thunder, Anthony realized he wasn’t worth more than cap space after two trades and two waves in seven months. And he was completely out of the league for almost a year.
After one season with the Lakers, Westbrook appears to be in a similar crisis. And it may already be too late to stop it all coming full circle.
Could Westbrook accept the new role sooner than Anthony? If not, is another team looking for a remake project?
From how Westbrook is currently viewed in the league, to potentially saving time with the Lakers, to potentially moving elsewhere, according to an NBA insider.
A new role in LA?
Rival executives and scouts contacted by FOX Sports were almost unanimous in agreeing that Westbrook had not been off the bench in an NBA game for a month since November 28, 2008. The Lakers said he would serve best if he led a second unit. In his rookie season with the Thunder.
“It’s hard to see him as anything other than a Lakers backup,” said one Western Conference scout. “It’s difficult to play with him.” [Anthony Davis] and lebron [James]It might be nice if you let me go with Unit 2. Unless he miraculously learns to shoot, he has to play the only way he knows how.”
Eastern Conference scouts also think Westbrook would ideally be off the bench, but the biggest question is whether he’s ready for it.
“That’s not what he left behind, how would you accept that he’s not the player he used to be?” said the scout. “It’s like Carmelo. I don’t know if Russ has the mindset to accept a lesser role.”
Based on Westbrook’s statistical production last season, the idea that he’s no longer a starter might seem silly. He remained 10th among NBA point guards in scoring (18.5 points per game), 11th in assists (7.1), and 4th in rebounding (7.4). His errant shots were frequently derided, but his goal percentage on the field (44.4) last season was the highest for the Wizards (43.9), his career percentage (43.8), and Anthony (44.1) and both the previous year. was higher than his teammate Taren Horton-Tuckers (41.1);
The question, as Western Conference scouts point out, is who else is in the Lakers’ starting lineup. James isn’t looking to maneuver off the ball, especially at this stage in his career. His utilization last season was the highest in eight years. Davis had his fourth-highest center usage, behind Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns. Westbrook, on the other hand, has dropped to his third lowest level of usage in his career. Synopsis: If Russ needs more touches to have more impact, he won’t find them as starters.
The Lakers have yet to indicate what role they expect Westbrook to play this season.
They’ve actually said some good things about him over the past few months. Revised to be the “most consistent” player after receiving a text message from agent Rich Paul representing both James and Davis. In response to a post on social media about the over-criticism of Westbrook, James said, “I hope he’s doing well this season.” I can’t wait to retire!” he replied.
Jeannie Buss was right, Russell Westbrook was consistent… -really bad
Nick Wright explains why Jeanie Buss is looking to inflate the value of Russ to increase trading opportunities.
The Lakers’ actions don’t quite match their word, so it’s a question of who he’s leaving for. It says. James was reportedly particularly interested in Westbrook reuniting with former teammate Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. Traded Horton Tucker to the Utah Jazz for point guard Patrick Beverley.
[Why a KD trade could still happen, and Lakers’ interest in Kyrie]
Acquiring Beverley makes a lot of sense for a team that needs defensive help, physical toughness and someone who can contribute without needing the ball, but for a team that still has Westbrook. does not make sense.
Beverly and Westbrook don’t like each other. Jeez. for a long time. It began with Beverly inadvertently submerging Westbrook in the 2013 playoffs, resulting in Westbrook’s season ending and Meniscus tearing as he was forced to miss a game for the first time in his career. The heated on-court exchange has become a regular part of the meeting ever since. Three years ago, Westbrook told reporters that Beverly made him think he was a better defender and that it hurt his career. It also inspired him to applaud at Westbrook last season.
Their awkward interaction at Beverley’s introductory press conference on Tuesday was a Class A display of forced politeness.
Asking Westbrook to accept a comeback from the bench would be difficult enough. Asking him to get off the bench behind someone he dislikes and doesn’t respect would require one of the greatest ego checks of all time.
“It all depends on how they start,” said the Eastern Conference GM. “If Durbin lets them bye in the first 20 games and go 15-5, they’ll be fine. Below .500 could be a problem.”
How Westbrook handles that request is as relevant next season as it is this season. After rebelling against the idea of him stepping off the Rockets’ bench in Houston, Anthony was out of the league the following season at Portland until the Trail Blazers signed him to a no-guaranteed minimum deal. Not surprisingly, they brought him back for a second season as a sub. This is the same role he played last season with the Lakers.
Westbrook’s Lakers future uncertain with addition of Patrick Beverly
Skip Bayless shares his thoughts on the Westbrook-Beverley situation.
Where’s your next destination?
Westbrook may not have that chance. Rumors in NBA circles say the Jazz might be happy to sign Westbrook if the Lakers throw in one or two of his first-round picks. The Jazz then waived him, making him available to any team for a prorated veteran minimum price.
Still, team executives and scouts could only come up with one potential landing spot: the Miami Heat. Team His President Pat Riley has a history of developing fiercely competitive players, from Alonzo Mourning to Brian Grant to Jimmy Butler. He hoped that points his guard Kyle his Lowry would be the last piece of another championship-capable team last season, but after having the best record in the East, the team was unable to finish. lost to Boston in the conference finals. Plagued by several nagging injuries, Lowry was a shell of his own, playing only 10 of 18 postseason contests and averaging 7.8 points on 29.1% shooting. Westbrook could be worth a bet, depending on how the Heat in general, and Lowry in particular, fare.
“It makes sense,” said an Eastern Conference executive. “Miami believes that anyone can rehabilitate.”
Of course, it all depends on whether Westbrook realizes he needs rehab and a shift in perspective on who is where in his career.
He could start by promising himself this: I’m not Carmelo Anthony.
Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He has previously written for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine, and The Washington Post, “Rebound” and “Yao: Living in Two Worlds,” on NBA forward Brian Grant and his battle with juvenile Parkinson’s disease. He is the author of two books. He also has a daily podcast, On The Ball with Ric Bucher. Follow him on Twitter @rick butcher.
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