Frank Vogel decision to bench Russell Westbrook for the final four minutes of the game against the Pacers might have long-term consequences for the Lakers, according to NBA insider Brian Windhorst.
He says that LeBron James has to manage Russ in the next 24-48 hours and that it is a very volatile situation. “He’s got to manage Russell Westbrook in the next 24-48 hours, Malika, this is a incredibly volatile situation because they crossed a Rubicon last night by benching Westbrook in this game,” Windhorst said on ESPN.
“LeBron James speaks not only for the orgnaization but obviously speaks for the way their team is going to operate and handling Westbrook and how he’s going to manage this because this was not a one-game move, this is something that is going to continue going forward.
“And whether Westbrook wants to stay in the fold, whether Westbrook wants to push his teammates away is going to define this road trip and maybe the rest of this Lakers season. It’s a very sensitive time.
“When I talked to people across the league today, everybody wants to know what is Russell Westbrook going to say when he speaks to the media for the next next whether it’s tomorrow morning, whether that’s tomorrow after the game against Orlando.
“Because nobody knows. This could go south very quickly, people are watching this because if you lose Westbrook, this is a situation he’s never been in before, this is something that could define where the Lakers go the focus is no longer on Frank Vogel.
“Vogel has made his move. His move is if he’s going to go down, he’s going down not playing Russell Westbrook at the end of these games. Now the focus is on Westbrook, not so much on Vogel.”
After the Pacers game Carmelo Anthony was asked about the coach’s decision to bench Westbrook as well. While giving his response, Melo noted that the most important thing for him is Russ’s mental situation.