The Los Angeles Lakers’ failed 2021-22 NBA campaign wasn’t solely the fault of any one person. Every portion of the organization, including players, coaches and front office personnel are to blame.
All that being said, clearly one piece stands out above all others as the square peg that simply couldn’t fit through a round hole: Russell Westbrook.
Which made it all the more surprising when reports emerged recently that the Lakers were considering retaining him heading into next season. Particularly given that there are four teams who have expressed an interest in taking him off the Lakers’ hands.
As it turns out, word leaking out that Los Angeles may keep Westbrook was actually a calculated move.
“I think they’re smart enough to know that look we’ve got to make it seem like we really want to keep Russ,” Fox Sports NBA insider Chris Broussard said this week.
“We’ve got to up his value so that maybe we get something for him. I will say this, I don’t think the Lakers are excited about not only having to give up maybe assets in the future like a first-round draft pick or two to get rid of Russ, but they also understand they might have to take back long-term salaries, like ugly contracts in return for guys that might not be that good.”
So where do all parties involved go from here?
“I think their first option and choice is to get rid of him,” Broussard continued. “But if the offers are so bad, and they can’t stomach a buyout. … I think that’s smart. I think it’s just see what they say about what they would do with Russ.
“It also tells you about their basketball acumen as well. So I don’t think that’s a negative that they’re asking coaching candidates about how they will handle the Russ.”
The Lakers came into 2021-22 with championship aspirations and ultimately failed to make the playoffs altogether. It was one of the most disappointing showings in franchise history.
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 21, 2022
No wonder LeBron James is having mental health issues. Things got ugly last year.
Change of some sort needs to be on the horizon.
Will L.A. be able to dump Westbrook, retain some key role players and make a legitimate title run in 2022-23?
Time will tell.