Lakers will use Russell Westbrook with the second unit as a test

The Los Angeles Lakers will take Russell Westbrook off the bench for their final preseason game, a move that could be a precursor to a longer look at the All-Star guard, nine-time second-team quarterback.

“He understood perfectly,” manager Darvin Ham told reporters when asked about Westbrook before Friday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings. “He completely looked into my eyes and said, ‘Yes, coach, whatever you need me to do.’ You can’t take it for granted, for a player of his stature to be willing to try something different, something he’s not used to. I mean, he started a lot of games in this league and performed at the highest level in this Inferno league. , also be an MVP.

“So for him to trust us and trust what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to take notes on – to see if his being in that part of the rotation has any advantage for us overall – one more. time, my hat is out for him. I salute him, because a lot of the guys would have had a lot of pushbacks, even if it’s a preseason game. He was totally selfless at the time.

“He will be the first substitute and he will play at a high level, I’m sure.”

The Lakers want to give Westbrook the ability to play faster and freer with the ball in his hand in the lead of the second unit, something that perhaps reflects the autonomy that Rajon Rondo had during the 2019-20 season.

Westbrook, which has a $ 47 million contract expiring, has been the subject of numerous commercial discussions during the off-season and is expected to continue until the start of the regular season and towards the February commercial deadline. Westbrook started 1,004 of his 1,021 career NBA games, coming off the bench in only his first 17 rookie games in 2008.

This will be the Lakers’ sixth different lineup in six preseason games, something Ham said Thursday would be planned.

“They are different combinations of seeing different guys playing together,” Ham said. “You have to prepare yourself. You have to come out in the face of the fact that there will be injuries. We don’t want them to happen. We don’t want them to happen to any of our guys, let alone our main guys. You just have to prepare yourself and be on the front line by entering different formations,” different players and different positions so that when that day comes, you will feel a little more prepared. “

The Lakers will be without Anthony Davis for the preseason finale. Davis didn’t make the trip to Sacramento, with Los Angeles keeping him out for precautionary reasons as he continues to manage lower back tension, according to the team. Davis is expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday for the regular season opener against the Golden State Warriors.

Point guard Dennis Schroder will also not play against the Kings due to a thumb injury that will set him aside for the start of the season, sources told ESPN.

Ham said Lonnie Walker IV (ankle) and Juan Toscano-Anderson (quad) both trained on Thursday and that he had planned they would play against the Kings.

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