EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- While much of the discourse about this season's Los Angeles Lakers has centered around the acquisition of Russell Westbrook and how the point guard has not been an ideal fit, LeBron James insists there is no one player responsible for the team still scuffling along below .500 as Thursday's trade deadline approaches.
"At the end of the day, as his brother, we're all in this together," James said after practice Monday. "We're all in the foxhole together. There is not one guy who is doing it by themselves. There's not one guy you can blame over another guy. There's not one guy who gets the praise over another guy. When we lose, we all lose. When we win, we all win. It's really that simple."
Westbrook was benched for the entire overtime session in L.A.'s 122-115 come-from-behind win over the New York Knicks on Saturday.
He shot just 1-for-10 from the field, marking the fifth time this season in which Westbrook attempted 10 field goals or more and only made three field goals or fewer. His points, rebounds, assists, steals, field goal percentage and 3-point percentages are all down from the numbers he posted last season with the Washington Wizards.
However, he is the only player on the entire roster to appear in all 54 games the Lakers have played. James has missed 17 games. Anthony Davis has missed 21. Kendrick Nunn, signed to the mid-level exception this offseason after Patty Mills picked Brooklyn over Los Angeles, has yet to play a single game.
That is to say, there's been plenty more obstacles to this Lakers season than Westbrook's turnovers and missed shots.
"I haven't been part of a season like this where injuries have played such a toll, but also protocols, false protocols, positive protocols, head coach being out for multiple games," James said. "So it's just challenging, a weird sort of different season for all of us. And not just [for the] Lakers, but a lot of teams in the NBA. So it's kind of impossible to gauge, I guess, previous encounters that you've had, because it's totally different."
Westbrook's response to being benched was different than the last time it happened, too. The veteran guard accepted Lakers coach Frank Vogel's decision, pointing out after the Knicks game that what mattered was L.A. getting the win. The last time it happened, when Vogel pulled him from the final stretch of the fourth quarter last month against the Indiana Pacers, the Lakers lost.
Vogel said he circled back with Westbrook on Monday to go over the decision.
"You still communicate afterwards and there was that today," Vogel said. "I've always taken pride with my teams in making sure I'm communicating with guys with whatever happens within a game. Obviously not every player every game, but if a certain thing requires a reach out or just a follow-up then we'll have that."
Beyond where Westbrook's head was at, the question hanging over Monday's practice was whether or not the Lakers will make a deal before Thursday's trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET.
Vogel said the Lakers' brain trust can only go on what it's seen so far -- which has included all the fits and starts that James alluded to -- when determining what type of deal it would want to pursue.
"You have to just evaluate what you've had," Vogel said. "You can't focus on what you haven't had. You evaluate on the body of work that our guys have put forth so far. And understanding that we haven't been whole the whole year, for most of the year, and you make whatever decisions based on that."
Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has remained in regular communication with James and Davis to discuss potential trades as the deadline approaches, sources told ESPN, keeping up the standard operating procedure he's had since Los Angeles acquired the two stars.
"I don't really like to play fantasy basketball so this is the group that we have going into the deadline and we'll be ready to take on all challenges that this season has given us," James said. "If there's an opportunity -- I've said this every year - if there's an opportunity for you to get better, then you explore those options. That's always been [my stance]."