Westbrook voices frustrations about Vogel, Lakers' dynamics originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
It appears the Los Angeles Lakers’ teardown might be underway, and Russell Westbrook is taking no prisoners in the process.
Westbrook spoke with the media Monday, addressing his frustrations from the team’s resistance to his style of play to internal tension between him and head coach Frank Vogel.
Westbrook spent the first 11 years of his career in Oklahoma City before being traded to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul as the Thunder started their rebuild. Since then, he’s spent the last three seasons with three different teams -- the Rockets, the Washington Wizards and, most recently, the Lakers.
His arrival in Los Angeles was considered long overdue by many who long speculated the California native and former UCLA Bruin would return to the West Coast. However, things have not been smooth sailing since joining forces with LeBron James and Anthony Davis a year ago.
The Lakers entered the season with the second-best chances of winning an NBA title, trailing only the star-studded Brooklyn Nets. To call Los Angeles’ season a disappointment would be an understatement.
The Lakers never seemed to settle into the playoff picture, hovering around the seventh seed for much of the first half of the season. Out of the All-Star break, the Lakers’ postseason hopes turned bleaker by the day, losing 18 of their final 24 games to finish 11th in the Western Conference and out of playoff contention.
Westbrook, the 2017 NBA MVP, has earned a reputation as an intense -- sometimes streaky -- guard with incredible athleticism and a need for the ball. On Monday, he said he was “never given a fair chance” to be who he needed to be to contribute to his team upon arriving in Los Angeles.
When confronted with the outward support his teammates provided throughout the season, Westbrook pushed back.
Westbrook also chimed in on Vogel, claiming he “never really connected” with the Lakers’ head coach. He went on to say that from the get-go, he felt like he had to prove himself to Vogel.
Vogel has spent 11 seasons as an NBA head coach, joining the Lakers in 2019. In his first season in Los Angeles, the Lakers won an NBA championship, beating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the finals during the “NBA Bubble.”
In the immediate aftermath of the regular season, the Lakers reportedly planned to replace Vogel, a move that caught the head coach off guard at a press conference. Jeanie Buss and the Lakers ownership followed through on that rumor on Monday when they announced they were letting Vogel go.
As for Westbrook, it remains to be seen where he’ll land next season. The 33-year-old guard is due for $47 million this year on a five-year contract that was signed back with the Thunder. However, he has a player option this offseason that could give him some agency in where he plays next.