Pelicans’ Twitter account takes shot at Lakers over LeBron James-Russell Westbrook Summer League drama
The New Orleans Pelicans played a major part in the Los Angeles Lakers finishing outside the play-in tournament last season, beating the purple-and-gold twice over a five-day span in late March and early April. Those wins were crucial to the Pelicans ultimately making the playoffs, then pushing the Phoenix Suns to a hard-fought six-game series in the first round. But they were even sweeter than the standings suggested due to growing distaste between Anthony Davis’ former team and his current one.
Not even three full seasons removed from Davis forcing his way from New Orleans to Los Angeles, the upstart Pelicans were already better than the aging Lakers, with a long-term future looking far, far brighter.
New Orleans continued reveling in that dichotomy on Thursday, taking a shot at Los Angeles on social media in wake of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook’s infamous non-greeting at Las Vegas Summer League.
yes our players enjoy sitting next to each other rather than on opposite ends of the court https://t.co/NPLHCe1hqU
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 14, 2022
The Lakers, obviously, don’t exactly boast the most cohesive chemistry in the league. On-court fit issues were obvious from the moment Westbrook was traded to Los Angeles, and friction resulting from them has clearly extended beyond the hardwood.
No player in the league wields subliminal messaging or indirect action quite like James. Clearly, he and Westbrook aren’t on the same page as the 2022-23 season fast approaches. How else to explain the former MVPs staunchly avoiding one another in Las Vegas after publicly and excitedly dapping up other teammates?
— NBA (@NBA) July 9, 2022
First-year coach Darvin Ham has expressed optimism about revamping Westbrook’s role in hopes of maximizing his fit next to James and Davis. But calls for Westbrook to diversify his offensive game and fully commit to defense have fallen on deaf ears for years. At this point, it would be more surprising if the 33-year-old diligently strove to implement those team-first changes than easily reverting back to the ball-dominant and gambling ways that initially made him a superstar.
But that’s not the Pelicans’ problem, who suddenly boast one of the most enviable cultures in basketball under sophomore coach Willie Green. Like so many across the league, New Orleans will be watching closely as the Lakers look to overcome it, ready to celebrate their downfall—and fanning the flames of a burgeoning new rivalry.