The Lakers plan to bring Russell Westbrook off the bench, people with knowledge of the situation told The Times, though Anthony Davis’ injured back could change the plans.
Westbrook, who didn’t play in the Lakers’ loss Wednesday in Denver, has been upgraded to probable ahead of Friday’s game against Minnesota. Davis, who participated in the team’s morning shoot-around, is questionable and will be a game-time decision because of his lingering lower back issues.
If Davis were to miss Friday’s game, Westbrook could stay in the starting lineup.
The hope is that Westbrook can emerge as the leader of the team’s second unit, playing at his preferred pace as the lead ballhandler while easing the pressure on him by allowing him to match up with opposing bench players.
The Lakers experimented with Westbrook coming off the bench in their preseason finale, but after five minutes he left the game with a hamstring injury. He later said he “absolutely” thought coming off the bench contributed to the injury.
Westbrook has been a full-time starter since the 18th game of his rookie season.
In three games this season, Westbrook is averaging 10.3 points on just 28.9% shooting from the field.
The Lakers are still looking for their first win.