Los Angeles Lakers brass has reportedly given Frank Vogel and his coaching the greenlight to “coach (Russell Westbrook) as the coaches see fit, even if that means pulling him from a game,” per multiple reports.
Long before the Lakers’ 111-104 loss to the Pacers, Vogel and his staff were reportedly given assurances that the franchise would support him “in taking a hard line while coaching the star.” ESPN says that the Lakers’ message can be described as “You got to do what you got to do.”
Vogel decided to test that power in the final 3 minutes, 52 seconds of the fourth quarter against Indiana. Westbrook was 5-for-17 from the field when Vogel benched Westbrook for Malik Monk, with L.A. trailing 101-94. Westbrook’s defensive effort was also crucial in the benching after Caris LeVert blew by Westbrook for a layup early in the final frame of the game.
“Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game,” Vogel said when asked about his decision to bench Westbook.
As reported by multiple outlets, Vogel’s job security as Lakers head coach has been in jeopardy due to the Lakers’ tough start to the season. At 22-23, the Lakers have underperformed despite acquiring multiple Hall-Of-Famers, most notably trading for Westbrook in a blockbuster draft-day trade.
Westbrook reportedly left Crypto.com Arena before speaking to reporters. On the season, Westbrook is averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game on 43.3 percent shooting from the field. He is currently the all-time leader in triple-doubles and averaged a triple-double in four seasons. He sports a 142-51 record when he records the feat as well.
“It’s frustrating. I can tell you that,” Carmelo Anthony said in defense of Westbrook per ESPN. “It’s frustrating as a player who’s trying to make it right, trying to do things right. This is new for him. This is a new situation. This is a new environment. We got to help him through it. I mean, that’s the only thing we can do, is make sure his mental is right. That’s the only thing I care about. I don’t care about any basketball stuff when it comes to Russ.
“As long as his mental is right, then I’m good.”