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The Lakers have mishandled the Russell Westbrook situation about as badly as they could have over the past six months. Now, they are reaping what they have sown in the first week of the season.
Continued poor play from Westbrook has led to him being the dominating story of the opening week and, as a result, has led to even more questions about his future. Some of those questions were answered in the short-term with Russ’ injury that will likely sideline him for Wednesday’s game and potentially further, but it isn’t a long-term solution.
In our first DraftKings Reacts survey of the season, we look at one of the long-term options available, which would involve simply sending Westbrook home until a trade is worked out.
Before the season, it felt like the Lakers didn’t have enough talent to survive sending Westbrook home. However, his play has been so bad — particularly on the offensive end — that he’s actively hurting the team by taking the court. Simply not having him around will be a positive for the team.
Wednesday will be the test of that theory but it’s hard to imagine the team not improving in his absence. Particularly late in games, opposing teams have figured out how to defend Westbrook, which is by not defending him. Those types of situations are bogging down the offense and severely impacting how effective the Lakers can be.
Benching Westbrook is an option and one the Lakers might explore, but the last time they tried that, he lasted only five minutes before an injury that he blamed on coming off the bench. It’s that very injury that has him sidelined against the Nuggets on Wednesday.
It’s a messy situation the Lakers find themselves in, but one they wholly created. There is no easy solution, but the least bad one might just be sending Russ home and saving everyone further embarrassment and frustration.