Report: Russell Westbrook’s Personality Fit ‘Even Worse’ Than ‘Basketball Fit’

While it was obvious this season that the basketball fit with Russell Westbrook on the Los Angeles Lakers as “a bad basketball fit,” sources tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the personality fit was even worse.

“Westbrook was a bad basketball fit, but team insiders insist the personality fit, alongside the often passive-aggressive [LeBron] James and nonconfrontational coach Frank Vogel, was even worse,” writes Shelburne.

The Lakers acquired Westbrook at a substantial cost in order to keep the team competitive in games that James and Anthony Davis missed due to injuries. When James and Davis discussed playing with Westbrook they were assured in a series of meetings before and after the trade that he’d do whatever it took to make it work. That pledge gave James and Davis the confidence to advocate for the trade.

“I think they lost faith in Russ as a ball handler after the first few weeks,” one team source said. “And he knew it because they took him off the ball and started asking him to stand in the corner or set screens.”

As Westbrook continued to struggle through the season, he needed support both in public and private, but there was little provided. The Lakers tried to hire Scott Brooks as an assistant coach in the offseason, but that spot evaporated when they had to offer Mike Penberthy a promotion and raise to keep him from the Dallas Mavericks.

“I think the problem with Russ has been Russ’s response to all of it,” a team source said. “He doesn’t leave a window for people to have empathy for him.”

While the coaching staff was direct with Westbrook in film sessions and private discussions, his teammates weren’t always the same way.

“The reality of the season was that Russ has been in a dark corner, and he doesn’t know who to trust or who to believe,” a team source said. “Then, if something doesn’t go well for him, he backs up a little more.

“There’s also guys in the locker room who were so disgruntled about their position that every time something goes bad for Russ, they just find a way to feed the beast.

“Telling him the coaches hate you or the front office is trying to get rid of you. Anything to fuel that monster, and give him an enemy.”

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