Russell Westbrook will be listed as doubtful for the Lakers for the contest against the Nuggets on Wednesday. Westbrook left the preseason finale after only five minutes with the same hamstring injury.
The move comes in the midst of plenty of calls for the Lakers to do something about Westbrook after a third successive poor showing to open the season on Sunday against the Blazers. Late in that game against Portland, Russ had an inexplicable decision on a 2-for-1 as part of an overall frustrating closing to the game.
This isn’t to suggest that Westbrook’s injury isn’t legitimate, necessarily. As previously noted, he did leave the game against the Kings with this injury. At the time, he blamed the injury on coming off the bench and the change in his routine, an excuse that went over about as well as you can imagine.
To Westbrook’s credit, he did travel with the team to the game.
Westbrook accompanied the team on the flight to Denver, per a Lakers spokesman. https://t.co/rJBtryBVTz— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 25, 2022
However, this feels a lot like the beginning of something that could last for a while as an excuse to keep Westbrook sidelined. Questions after each game have become more and more focused on Russ and each contest has become a bit of a referendum on him.
For both Russ and the team, sitting him out seems to be the right choice of action right now, at least in the short term. The focus can shift off of him and back to the team and, in all honestly, there’s a good chance the Lakers will be an improved team considering how many minutes Russ was playing and how bad he was performing.
Ultimately, this could be a legitimate injury that only has a short recovery time and Russ is back on the floor. But given the circumstances, there’s also the real likelihood Russ has already played his last game as a Laker.