Russell Westbrook's future is probably one of the most over-discussed topics in the NBA at this point. This offseason has seen chatter about the former MVP being traded for months on end, and when that has started looking unlikely, questions about his role have sprung up. NBA insiders have given their takes on the matter, with some saying he's still viewed as the starting point guard and others wondering if he'll end up being demoted to the bench instead. It's been a debate among the fans as well.
The acquisitions of Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder, both guards, have certainly amped up the conversation around this. But Westbrook's career so far has meant that he demands a level of respect that the other two don't. This puts the Lakers in an awkward position, seeing as he declined quite noticeably during the last season when he played for the team. However, now another report suggests that they may think of making a radical move after all.
Russell Westbrook Could Still Become The Lakers' 6th Man Next Season, Says Insider
The idea that Westbrook can play off the bench has been touted before. As the leader of the second unit, he wouldn't have to alter his play style and he could keep distributing the ball and taking it down the floor. And The Athletic's Jovan Buha has now reported that the Lakers haven't eliminated this possibility, even though it might cause some issues in the locker room.
“Assuming Westbrook remains in Los Angeles, I think there’s a legitimate chance he’s eventually deployed as the team’s sixth man, depending on how his fit with James develops.”
The Lakers do now have a surplus of players that can and like to handle the ball. And while Russ is one of the more decorated, the main man on the first unit remains a much bigger superstar than him, LeBron James. While LeBron has shown his support for Westbrook this season, it is safe to say that he will do whatever it takes for the Lakers to get back to winning ways, even if it means having to try and make Russ come off the bench.
The only way to find out the answers to all these questions is when the season begins, until then everything remains only speculative. It's safe to say that Westbrook himself won't be too pleased by the thought of coming off the bench. One way or the other, the Lakers' decision-makers have a lot to consider when the season begins.