The trade deadline came and went and the Lakers look exactly the same. The two names mentioned most in rumors were Russell Westbrook and Talen Horton-Tucker; both remain with the Lakers. Not too many people were happy with that, including some within the organization.
It’s no secret the Westbrook experiment has been quite the struggle. At 26-31, the Lakers are on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason and there is no reason to feel optimistic the rest of the way. Westbrook has struggled with his jumper, fishing around the rim, turnovers and playing consistent defense. According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, some of the coaching staff felt it was best to move on from Westbrook.
For starters, sources said that despite some pressure from members of the coaching staff, the Lakers never gained traction on talks about a Russell Westbrook trade, leaving top basketball executive Rob Pelinka with room to operate only around the margins of the trade market.
While we don’t know exactly who voiced these concerns to Rob Pelinka, it is alarming that they did. The coaching staff is around these players every single day, for the most part, so they have a better gauge as to what the Lakers need to do to improve. If they feel the Lakers are better off with Westbrook, then their opinion carries weight. Were their concerns merely based on fit on the basketball court? Or is there something deeper we are not privy to? We won’t get those answers anytime soon. It seems the buyout market will be only way the Lakers improve this roster.
Regardless, Pelinka was not able to grant their wishes and the Lakers will need to figure this out with him. While 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 only had one turnover. It was actually LeBron James and Anthony Davis who could have played better, but the feeling after this loss was different. The Lakers could have won and if they continue to play that way, they could definitely turn their season around with Russell Westbrook. Why not.