This past summer the Los Angeles Lakers were coming off a disappointing 2020-21 campaign that saw them go one-and-done in the playoffs a mere season removed from winning an NBA title.
Understanding that changes needed to be made, LA settled on two possible options: acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards or adding Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings.
Both deals were on the table for them, and it was just a matter of choosing the right one.
Ultimately, the Lakers opted to go with Westbrook.
This week, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka appeared on the latest episode of Spectrum SportsNet’s “Backstage Lakers” and offered some insight into what went into that decision.
On the latest Backstage Lakers, Rob Pelinka confirmed two things that have mostly only been hinted at:
1) the team made the Russ trade/added more ballhandlers because they wanted to save wear and tear on LeBron
2) they don’t think they can judge the team without Nunn and Ariza pic.twitter.com/hYuxdXfInR
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 20, 2021
“I think in kind of building the roster in the offseason, obviously, we made a big trade for Russell Westbrook to get another playmaker,” he said.
“We knew that as LeBron [James] journeyed towards Year 19 in the league and then Year 20, we couldn’t rely on him as the sole engine for our team. So we made that trade, really wanted to dimensionalize the roster with a combination of versatility, guys that can shoot, and defenders.”
In retrospect, adding a career 43 percent three-point shooter to space the floor around James likely would have been the better move over adding someone who does all the same stuff as him, but worse.
Over the past week the Lakers have spoken to two different teams about a Westbrook trade. It seems clear that all parties involved recognize that a mistake was made this summer.
Whether LA will actually be able to unload him remains to be seen, though.
Paulina Gretzky knows how to celebrate a birthday right. https://t.co/luTTz3X5aB
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 21, 2021
If they can’t, expect all the quiet chatter surrounding an Anthony Davis trade to steadily start growing louder and louder.
One way or another, the Lakers need to make some changes. If they don’t, this group may ultimately go down as the most disappointing super team of all time.