Perhaps mercifully, the Los Angeles Lakers saw their 2021-22 playoffs hopes erased when they were thoroughly beaten by the Phoenix Suns.
Without LeBron James, the Lakers predictably struggled to keep up with a Suns team that looks poised to make a run to the NBA Finals. The San Antonio Spurs put pressure on Los Angeles to win after they beat the Denver Nuggets earlier in the night, and unfortunately they could not pull out a win to keep their season alive.
Russell Westbrook has been the easy scapegoat for L.A.’s lack of success this year, but it would be disingenuous to blame him for all their shortcomings. Westbrook’s first year back home did not go as planned but it did not sound like he was dwelling too much on it.
“I don’t know. It’s obviously disappointing on many levels but nothing you can do about it at this point,” Westbrook said after the loss to the Sunds.
The biggest decision the Lakers have to make in the offseason is what they do with Westbrook, who is likely to pick up the gargantuan $47 million player option on the final year of his deal. The guard noted that the current plan is for him to stay, though he is unsure if that will be the case
“Yeah, that’s the plan but nothing is promised,” Westbrook said when asked about running it back but with better health.
“You kind of got to take it one day at a time each day and like I’ve said all season long, you got to play the cards you’re dealt. Yes, we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course on an 82-game season but we’re not sure what guys will be on the team either. Hopefully we have a chance to be able to do something in the future.”
There were rumblings that the front office was exploring deals for Westbrook at the trade deadline, so those talks should pick up again now that the sad reality of the Lakers missing the playoffs is here. Westbrook tried his best to make it work, but the fit was clunky at best and both sides might benefit from parting ways.
Missing the playoffs with James and Anthony Davis on the roster is inexcusable, and now the Lakers have the unenviable task of trying to fix it in the summer. Whether or not Westbrook is part of that equation remains to be seen, but it is clear wholesale changes are in order.
Lakers expected to part ways with Frank Vogel
Another popular person to point the finger out is head coach Frank Vogel, who struggled to get his players on the right page. With how underwhelming the roster looked on a nightly basis, the organization is expected to part ways with Vogel once the offseason begins.
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