We’re Witnessing the End of Russell Westbrook’s NBA Career

Russell Westbrook may have just played his last NBA game. Seriously.

If that game against the Blazers wasn’t his last, it’s close to it—he only has a few more games left before he’s benched, then traded, then bought-out, and then is no longer on an NBA roster.

The Lakers lost 106-104 to the Blazers yesterday, and it was pretty much Westbrook’s fault. He was the only Laker starter that had a negative plus/minus:

But it’s more than that. His lowlight reel is now to the point where it’s just unacceptable.

He’s embarrassing himself out there, along with his teammates, his organization and the city of Los Angeles.

It’s just embarrassing. It’s like he’s trying so hard to get right and prove everyone wrong, but the harder he tries the more he screws up. So he tries even harder and does way too much and screws up even more.

This is one of the worst plays I’ve ever seen:

The epitome of hero ball, the epitome of lacking awareness; the epitome of Russell Westbrook.

30 seconds left, up a point, nearly full shot clock, and just chucks up a midrange brick. One of the lowest IQ plays in years.

He does things that I’ve never seen players do before, but not in a good way. Just when I think I’ve seen the worst of him, he outdoes himself and sinks to a new low.

This is what I mean. He’s the only player in the last four years to take a shot like that. That’s because it’s such an incredibly poor decision that pretty much every other player in the NBA knows not to take it.

I thought last year his poor play early on was just nerves about playing in his hometown Los Angeles and with LeBron/trying too hard. But that’s only a valid explanation for like maybe a game or two at most.

Now we’re going on season two of terrible play. This isn’t nerves. In fact, part of the problem is that he might be too confident in himself. No player who is not supremely confident in himself would ever take a shot like that one above, right?

And that’s what it is. Westbrook is a terrible fit on the Lakers because, contrary to what he originally told LeBron and AD, he is not willing to sacrifice a thing to make it work with them. He still thinks he’s the MVP of the league and that he doesn’t have to change a thing about his game.

His delusion is why he—and the Lakers—are so bad.

Russell Westbrook is the worst player in the NBA right now. It’s not a debate anymore.

There are so many different ways to drive this point home:

Given the fact that he is making $47 million this season, yes, he is absolutely without a doubt the worst player in the NBA.

Sure there are guys who are less skilled and less athletic than him. I’m not talking about talent. Those guys who are worse than him in terms of skills and athleticism are also not making anywhere near as much money as he is, or playing anywhere near as many minutes as he is. He’s a starter.

And he’s putting up these numbers:

8% from three. He’s playing 29 minutes a game. He’s taking 13 shots a game.

So I have no problem in saying he’s absolutely the worst player in the league right now.

There are other players putting up fewer points, rebounds and assists per game, but none of them are getting the minutes and shots per game he is.

At first, after the first two games of the year, my thought was that the Lakers had a lot more problems than just Westbrook. He was playing like crap offensively but he at least was putting in an effort defensively. I thought Laker fans were just grasping for a simple answer, and an easy solution to why their team was so bad. I thought Laker fans just wanted to believe that all they had to do was trade Westbrook and the team would be fine, because they were in denial of the reality that the Lakers are just a poorly constructed roster overall with little to no chance of actually winning anything this season.

But while the Lakers are a poorly constructed roster with weak bigs and no shooting in a league where shooting has never been more important, they have no bigger problem than Westbrook.

Removing him from the team wouldn’t solve everything, but it would go a long ways.

LeBron and AD trying to carry that team is like making someone try to swim while wearing cement shoes. He’s dragging them down.

Listen to me: not even Michael Phelps could swim with concrete shoes on. The Lakers have LeBron and Anthony Davis, and they’re 0-3 because nobody can overcome Westbrook.

With just a decent supporting cast, LeBron and AD led the Lakers to a championship. The third best player on that team was with KCP, Kyle Kuzma, or Alex Caruso. And it was enough for LeBron and AD to carry them to a championship. It does not take much for them to win at a high level. But they cannot overcome Russell Westbrook.

In fact, if you put him on any team, they’re not overcoming his terrible play. Maybe the Warriors would have a better record than 0-3 right now if they had him. They have much better shooting than the Lakers do so I wouldn’t doubt it. But they would not be able to win the Championship. They wouldn’t be able to secure a top-3 seed in the west with him playing major minutes. They wouldn’t be able to win consistently over the long term. They’d be a fringe play-in team.

Westbrook is insurmountable. You know when you’re playing an online game like Call of Duty or Halo or Overwatch, and there’s a player on your team that is actively throwing? He’s purposely getting fragged or even fragging his own teammates—you know what I’m talking about. It’s impossible to win, right? You can possibly win a game with a bad player on your team, or even if someone on your team quits mid game and you’re down a man. But you can’t win a game with someone on your team who is actively throwing the match.

The Lakers trying to win with Russ is equivalent to that.

I’m not saying Russ is deliberately throwing games in the NBA, but the decisions he makes, the way he approaches games, it’s tantamount to throwing. It’s unintentional throwing. In his mind I think he thinks he’s doing good things, but the result is terrible for his team. Like the shot at the end of the Blazers game we just went over. He pulled up for a midrange jumper with 30 seconds left, 17 on the shot clock and a one point lead. He was going for the 2 for 1 there. In his mind he was doing a good thing. But in reality it was a terrible decision because he’s shooting 28% from the floor. So the outcome might look like he was throwing the game, but in his mind he thought he was about to help his team win.

The outcome was the same, though. Whether he was intentionally throwing the game or earnestly trying to win it, same outcome. He pulled up and bricked a jump shot with 15 seconds on the shot clock and a 1 point lead with under 30 seconds left in the game.

There are three types of players on any sports team: there are guys who are net positives, who make the team better.

Then there are guys who are net-zero, who do some good things and some bad things, but ultimately the good they do and the bad they do cancel each other out over the course of a full season. Sometimes they have good games, sometimes they have bad games. But your hope is that they have good games when it really counts and that you can overcome their bad games.

Then there are net-negative players who do more bad things than good things. They have more bad games than good games over the course of a season. These are the players who see their minutes cut, their roles reduced, and ultimately if they don’t start showing some signs of improvement, they get cut and are out of the league.

That’s what Westbrook is now. And he’s not only a net negative player, he’s the most net negative player in the NBA today.

The Lakers would be a better team simply by getting rid of him. If all you did with this Lakers roster is just remove him from it, the team would improve. That’s what I mean when I say he’s a net negative. The Lakers are a worse team with him on the floor than they are without him.

Of course he’s a bad fit. But it’s not just with the Lakers. Any player who plays like he does is a bad fit anywhere.

The only teams that will express interest in trading for him are teams that are actively in the process of tanking and trying to free up salary cap space for next year with his expiring contract. That’s the only value he has as an NBA player. It has nothing to do with his on court play or anything positive he brings to the table from a basketball perspective.

The only reason you’d want him on your team is if you are actively trying to lose games. (Think of how crazy that statement is when you also consider the Lakers are actively trying to win games and they still use him.)

And so this is why I think this is probably his last year in the NBA. Once he’s no longer under contract, I don’t think any team would actually want him. Not even just to put butts in seats and generate buzz.

No team that wants to win in this league will have any interest in him, and once his contract expires, he no longer has value as an expiring contract to free up cap space, so at that point he’ll have no value to the bad/tanking teams either. I don’t even think there’s a team out there that will offer him a veteran minimum contract next year.

Why would anyone do that? He’s shown that he will not take a reduced role, he will not be a role player, he will not stop shooting the ball, he will not come off the bench. He thinks he’s a starter, he thinks he’s a centerpiece.

Even if in free agency he manages to convince some team that he’s seen the light and is willing to become a role player, the second you put him on the floor he’ll just revert back to his old ways. Because that’s who he is and that’s all he knows. He only knows how to be 2017 Russ, a leading man with a sky-high usage rate.

Back in summer 2021, just before the trade to LA, he promised LeBron and AD he would change his game to make it work:

This is why I actually believed it would work back then. I really thought he would change the way he plays now that he’s on LeBron’s team, and now that he knows he’s getting older and the clock is running out for him to get a ring. I figured he would be both desperate and humble and willing to do whatever it takes. I was wrong.

He either can’t change his game or he won’t.

Problem is, even if he was still as good as he was in 2017, he wasn’t even a winning player back then. His team won 47 games in the regular season solely due to trying harder than other teams, but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs. That’s the best case scenario for you if Westbrook is your best player, and that was when he was in his absolute athletic prime.

Nowadays he still wants to play that way, even though he’s nowhere near that level of athleticism he had in 2017. It’s the most toxic possible combination for a professional athlete.

He has no interest in taking on a lesser role or adjusting his game to match his current skill set. He’s in complete denial. He still thinks he’s the best player in the league, and the worst part is that he never even was the best player in the league—only on paper he was. Even when he was averaging a 30 point triple double, it didn’t translate to winning. It was mostly empty stats. In fact it was mostly stat-padding. He’d rip rebounds out of his teammates hands to get credit for them, he’d pass up wide open shots because he was trying to hit the 10 assist mark.

He’s not going to be on an NBA roster next season. There’s no team out there that would willingly sign up for this. He really is that bad.

He’s going to get traded soon, I think. I’m not sure if he’ll be benched first. Maybe the Lakers think benching him lowers his trade value and reduces their leverage. I’m not sure that makes a difference at this point. Everyone can clearly see how bad he is. They’re not going to trick some team into thinking he’s good by keeping him in the starting lineup.

Again, his only value right now around the league is as an expiring contract. I think what will happen once he’s traded is he’ll just get bought out and then that’ll be it. The team that trades for him won’t even want him to play.

And then I think that’s it for Westbrook. That will be the end of his NBA career. It’ll be like Allen Iverson towards the end.

AI in 2008 led the league in minutes, was an All Star for Denver, and averaged 26.4ppg. The next season, he was traded to Detroit after playing just 3 games for Denver. The year after that he was sent to Memphis, then back to Philly, and that was it for him. In 2011, he was playing in Turkey.

Westbrook is currently on his 4th team in 4 years. 2019 was his last year with OKC, then after Paul George bolted on him, he was granted a trade to Houston to team up with James Harden for the 2020 season. After that didn’t work out, he was sent to the Wizards for the 2021 season, and then the Lakers said, “We can change him!” And here we are.

He will not be on the Lakers much longer. I know they’re saying they’re going to hold out on trading him until after Thanksgiving, but I don’t know if that’s possible anymore. They might be 0-20 at that point. They need to trade him ASAP.

And then whatever team he ends up on will probably just buy him out, then he becomes a free agent.

At that point, I don’t think any team will sign him. I think he’s nearing the end of his NBA career. It could be any day now. If they lose again, he’ll have to get benched, and then at that point a trade is inevitable.

He legitimately may only have a handful of NBA games left in his career. Like fewer than 10. It might be fewer than 5, honestly. If the Lakers don’t win their next game, Darvin Ham will get desperate and just bench him.

It’s really bad in LA for the Lakers and for Russell Westbrook. It’s worse than anyone could’ve imagined.

Laker fans were certain he’d be traded in the off-season, but here we are now, three games in and he’s still there.

I think the Westbrook experiment in LA is nearing its end, though. I think it’s a matter of days, not weeks. And I do believe we are seeing the last of Russell Westbrook in the NBA. He will get bought out and then no one will sign him.

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