Lakers can’t hide the strain with Russell Westbrook

Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, July 19 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter from reporter Kyle Goon. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.

In negotiation, a consistent public posture is a practical tool. But even the best posturing can be upturned by reality.

In the last two weeks, the Lakers have seen an uncomfortable situation devolve. The talk around Las Vegas Summer League and even LeBron James’ appearance at the Drew League last weekend was this: What’s going on with Russell Westbrook?

The state of affairs hasn’t been good for a while. At least since Coach Darvin Ham was introduced in June, Ham and the Lakers haven’t been shy about talking up Westbrook and their “Big Three” without an ounce of irony – even though they only won 33 games last year and were just 11-10 when playing together. Ham and General Manager Rob Pelinka have said Westbrook has promised in conversations to be a better team player by screening and playing more attentive defense among other things.

But that was always shaky ground, and recent events have shown how weak the foundations are.

Yahoo Sports reported on Monday that Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis spoke on the phone together during the first weekend of Vegas Summer League “with each expressing their commitment to one another and vowing to make it work.”

That report would hold more water for the future of the…

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