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NBA Writer Claims That Russell Westbrook Won't Play In The NBA Again If He Leaves The Lakers: "If You Look Around, Where Is Russell Westbrook Gonna Go That Somebody Wants Him To Be Around?"

Jeanie Buss Completely Ignores Russell Westbrook While Talking About The Los Angeles Lakers Future

Russell Westbrook's tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers has been anything but good. The veteran point guard landed in LA ready to help the team bounce back after a disappointing 2020/21 season, but things went worse for them last year. Russ earned a lot of criticism from fans, who made it seem like he was guilty of all the bad things the Lakers lived. 

Now, he's persona non grata in Los Angeles, with many fans asking the team to get rid of him. He's been linked with a move elsewhere for a while now, but nothing has changed for the former MVP. While some think that he could be used to land Kyrie Irving this summer, others don't think the Lakers could move him yet. 

There are people who go further and make big claims regarding Russ. One of them is ESPN's Tim Bontemps, who recently claimed staying on the Lakers is the only chance Westbrook has to continue his NBA career. 

During a recent appearance on the Hoop Collective Podcast, the NBA writer claimed that if Russ isn't part of the Lakers on opening night, he could never play in the league again (via r/lopea182):

I think you can make a good case, if Russell Westbrook is not on the Lakers at the start of this season, you can make an argument that he will never play in the NBA again.

I think if you look around, where is Russell Westbrook gonna go that somebody wants him to be around?

To this point in his career, it's always been Russ running the show. We saw that in Houston: He's with James Harden, they had to change the team to make it work around Russ. He's in Washington, they remake the team to work around Bradley Beal (Note: I think Bontemps meant to say Russ, given the context of his rant). Obviously, that was the case in OKC when he was a superstar player. But now, you saw what happened last year with the Lakers: We all agreed the second that trade was made it was a disastrous fit.

You look at that situation now: Yeah, Russell Westbrook sure can be a role player on the Lakers. That would go against everything Russell Westbrook ever said in his career and acted in his career where it's always been "I turned myself into a superstar player. I was a recruit nobody ever heard of. I - through sheer force of will and talent - turned myself into a 1st Ballot HOF player. I don't need to listen to anybody else."

The Russ slander has gotten out of control recently, and this could be the biggest example of that. It's easy to see where Tim's comments come from, but it'd be crazy to see that nobody would give a Russ another chance. Still, the same happened to Carmelo Anthony a couple of seasons ago and it wasn't until he proved he could have a different role on a team that the Portland Trail Blazers landed him. 

Time will tell how this situation plays out, but thinking of Russ not having a team sounds crazy right now.