Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is in a tough spot at the moment.
His job is reportedly on the line on a daily basis and his team just lost to an Indiana Pacers squad set for a rebuild.
A 111-104 home loss against the Pacers even dropped the Lakers below .500 at 22-23.
Russell Westbrook has been in the spotlight since the start of the season because of his inconsistent play.
The focus got ramped up Wednesday night as Vogel benched him near the end of the game.
The coach’s reasoning was straightforward.
Frank Vogel on his decision to sub out Russell Westbrook for the final four minutes of the game: “Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) January 20, 2022
“Playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game.”
That is a strong indictment of where Westbrook stands in Vogel’s mind.
Is this situation fixable?
Lakers Have A Massive Problem To Solve
So who is to blame here?
Westbrook may say he does give the team a great shot to win and that Vogel is the problem.
The coach made his stance known in that Westbrook is not playing at a level right now where he can help the Lakers beat even a lowly opponent in the Pacers.
The guard shot 5-17 before getting benched, and only grabbed two rebounds in 27 minutes.
He has only scored 20 points once this month and that came in a nine-turnover performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Pacers ending Frank Vogel’s Lakers career is wild
— Anthony F. Irwin (@AnthonyIrwinLA) January 20, 2022
So even when he is scoring, the turnovers are a problem.
Let’s consider his contract too.
Westbrook is making more money than LeBron James at $44.2 million this season and has a $47 million player option next season.
So the Lakers are stuck with Westbrook whether they like it or not.
Vogel’s decision to bench him could have been a one-off thing.
Yet ownership now must decide who will win in this battle.
The player may have to come out on top given his salary and if the head coach doesn’t like that, a change may have to be made.