The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention this week. Given that this group entered the year with title aspirations, it goes without saying that this was a hugely disappointing end result.
One big reason for L.A.’s failings was the play of offseason acquisition Russell Westbrook.
Most postmortems on the Lakers’ season have in one way or another pointed to Westbrook as a focal point of the team’s struggles.
One anecdote in particular is a great illustration of this.
“Russ [Westbrook) never respected Frank [Vogel] from Day 1,” one Lakers staffer told Dan Woike of the L.A. Times. “The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run. Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker)] We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik. We have LeBron. We have AD. They can all bring the ball up.’
“He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s—. Everybody get out the way.’ From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”
It will be interesting to see where things go from here. There only seems to be one credible trade suitor for Westbrook and his looming $47 million 2022-23 NBA season.
Beyond that, the Lakers’ hands are tied.
Trade rumors surrounding Anthony Davis are intensifying to the point where the big man himself had to come out and somberly address them. Beyond that, LeBron James appears to be scouting for his next stop.
The Lakers are in major, major disarray.
Will the front office ultimately be able to right this ship over the offseason? Time will tell.