Would he remain a starter for the team, even with the troubles he’s faced, or would he become a bench player?
There were even some wondering if he would be waived by the Lakers.
In the end, the team decided to keep Westbrook – at least for now – but head coach Darvin Ham has made a massive change to his role within the organization.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham on Russell Westbrook coming off the bench tonight: “It’s not a demotion; it’s a realignment.”
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 15, 2022
Westbrook did not start in the team’s final preseason game and was instead a bench player for the first time in his career.
Fans had been begging and pleading for Ham to make this move for months so they were happy to see it happen.
Ham felt the need to explain his choice, saying that Westbrook coming off the bench was “not a demotion; it’s a realignment.”
We don’t know how Westbrook feels about this realignment but he might need to get used to it.
Revising Russell’s Role
A big change was needed one way or another for the Lakers.
Their last season was an absolute train wreck.
While there were many culprits at fault, it was clear that Westbrook wasn’t playing in the ways the Lakers wanted and he would need to shape up or ship out in the season ahead.
He was seemingly better in the preseason but still not the player the team needed.
Therefore, his benching makes sense.
Ham stated that Westbrook was very receptive to the move and wants to do whatever the team needs.
However, the player was injured just five minutes into his new tenure as a bench player, leading some to speculate if he was upset about Ham’s choice.
Regardless, Ham is the coach and calls the shots and Westbrook will need to get used to that.