The Clippers beat the Lakers on Thursday night in their season opener, pushing the Lakers to 0-2 on the season after opening week losses to two of the West’s top contenders.
The result isn’t a surprise, but what remains fairly jarring is just how bad things are with Russell Westbrook. After an offseason in which the Lakers tried to Westbrook to no avail, all while saying they were crafting a plan for how to work him in better, the result has been a lot of the same in the first two games, with Russ struggling to find his place on a Lakers roster that is just not built for him (or the team as a whole) to succeed right now.
On Tuesday night, this led Charles Barkley to plead with the Lakers to trade Westbrook, saying they’ve taken all of the joy out of his life. Two days later, Westbrook’s former teammate Paul George concurred with Barkley after watching his friend have an 0-for-11 shooting night against his Clippers, diplomatically noting the disastrous roster construction of the Lakers and hoping that at some point Russ can find that joy again because he hates seeing him like this, via Dan Woike.
“I’m always a huge Russell supporter. I won’t undermine the great moments we had in Oklahoma. He was tremendous for my career. Honestly, I don’t get the shade or the hate or the stuff that’s thrown at him. He’s one of the best players to ever play this game. It’s hard when you’ve got the pressure they’re putting on him here. Quite frankly, it’s not the team that’s very…it’s not geared for him, with the roster they have as well. Like, it’s got to work both ways. He was very easily a 30-10-10 guy when he had the keys to the team. We can’t forget about that. For me, I just want him to keep having that joy, keep having that excitement, that fun. That’s what makes him special, the fact that he can do that on a nightly basis. I hate to see that it doesn’t look like it’s there for him. But, you know, hopefully in the end, it works out for him in his favor.”
That is the general consensus around the league, and at this point it’s pretty painful watching Westbrook and the Lakers. While Russ’ struggles get the majority of the headlines, the team as a whole is just a catastrophe shooting the ball, going 9-of-45 from three-point range in a six-point loss to the Clippers. The other Lakers point guards combined for a 1-for-14 night, as Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn were equally bad offensively, and after correctly noting that the team doesn’t have enough shooting after the opener, LeBron has resigned himself to his fate this year.
LeBron James on the Lakers’ 3-point shooting woes: “Our ball club is our ball club. I’m not going to harp on what we can’t do every single day.”
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 21, 2022
Westbrook is at the center of it all and he (and a pair of future first round picks) likely hold the key to potentially making this at least some better in a trade, but until the Lakers pull the trigger on a deal to bring in some real talent, we’re going to get this on a nightly basis, and Russell Westbrook won’t be the only one whose joy for basketball is stripped away during Lakers games this season.