The trade deadline has come and gone and the Lakers look exactly alike. The two most mentioned names in the rumors were Russell Westbrook and Talen Horton-Tucker; both remain with the Lakers. Not many people were happy with that, including some within the organization.
It’s no secret that the Westbrook experience has been quite a struggle. At 26-31, the Lakers are on the outside when it comes to the playoffs and there’s no reason to feel optimistic the rest of the way. Westbrook struggled with his jumper, fishing around the edge, turnovers and playing consistent defense. According to Bill Oram of The Athleticsome members of the coaching staff felt it was best to leave Westbrook.
For starters, sources said that despite some pressure from members of the coaching staff, the Lakers never gained ground on trade talks with Russell Westbrook, leaving the top basketball executive Rob Pelinka the ability to operate only on the margins of the commercial market.
While we don’t know exactly who voiced these concerns to Rob Pelinka, it’s alarming that they did. The coaching staff is around these players every day, for the most part, so they have a better idea of what the Lakers need to do to improve. If they think the Lakers are better off with Westbrook, then their opinion counts. Were their concerns simply based on fit on the basketball court? Or is there something deeper that we are not aware of? We won’t get those answers anytime soon. It looks like the buyout market will be the only way the Lakers can improve on this roster.
Either way, Pelinka was unable to grant their wishes and the Lakers will have to work this out with him. While the The Lakers lost to the Golden State Warriors on the road in heartbreaking fashion, it was definitely a moral victory. The Lakers not only played well, but they had a championship contender on the ropes. Westbrook shot the ball well, made his free throws and had just one turnover. It was actually LeBron James and Anthony Davis who could have played better, but the feeling after that loss was different. The Lakers could have won and if they keep playing this way, they could definitely turn things around with Russell Westbrook. Why not.