The Russell Westbrook experiment at the Lakers was a failed one, and an NBA insider has revealed who took the blame for what went down.
“Sources told ESPN that every member of the organization involved in the Russell Westbrook trade — including James – will admit they misjudged it, owning part of the blame,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin wrote.
Players like DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Buddy Hield could have potentially joined the team to help LeBron and Anthony Davis instead of Russ, but LeBron led the push for Westbrook.
The team knew the risks of trading for a ball-dominant guard who would have to be the team’s third option – something Westbrook had never experienced before.
Russ in purple and gold only lasted for one and a half seasons before he was traded in a blockbuster three-team deal, where LA received D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
The failings of the Russ trade also led to former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel’s firing, according to a recent report by the Athletic’s Sam Amick.
“…Buss was known to believe the former coach was largely to blame for the failed integration of Russell Westbrook and ultimately greenlighted his April 2022 firing as a result…,” Amick wrote.
Fast forward to the 2023-24 season and the Lakers GM Rob Pelinka finds himself in a similar situation, with an aging James and Davis and an underwhelming support cast.
Just last season, Pelinka made some in-season moves that saw a team who started the season 2-10 make a playoffs push.
But as the Lakers know all too well, exploring the trade market likely means that you’re parting ways with yet another future draft pick.
If they traded for a player like Zach LaVine, would it just be another Westbrook situation?