The Lakers had a communication issue with Westbrook all season

Lakers
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers’ season is nearly over, with only two meaningless games remaining before all parties can give their exit interviews before heading out on vacation. But before that happens — probably during and after as well — there will be plenty of articles coming out that cover what went wrong via anonymous sourcing that can effectively be described as a “blame game” being played by people within the Lakers organization.

Two of those types of articles came out Friday, with one coming from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and one coming from the L.A. Times’ Dan Woike and Broderick Turner. To read a summary of everything in those two articles, check this post out.

In ESPN’s piece and, to a lesser extent, in the L.A. Times piece, a situation of terrible and toxic communication between Russell Westbrook and different parites on the Lakers was reported.

Here’s some of the things that Shelburne reported regarding that idea:

Westbrook was a bad basketball fit, but team insiders insist the personality fit, alongside the often passive-aggressive James and nonconfrontational coach Frank Vogel, was even worse.

 

Westbrook didn’t make things any easier on himself either. “I think the problem with Russ has been Russ’s response to all of it,” a team source said. “He doesn’t leave a window for people to have empathy for him.”

The communication between LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook was positive enough for the two (and the organization) to turn so quickly away from the Buddy Hield trade… but apparently that communication didn’t transfer over to the actual season at hand.

As stated above by Shelburne, it appears there were problems on both sides of the street when it came to communicating with Westbrook. He was bad at receiving anything on his end, while it appears there was some fault attributed to the way LeBron, Vogel, and others tried delivering thoughts and ideas to him. It was so bad that Woike and Turner reported in their article that the team internally wondered if they made a mistake by not bringing back Jared Dudley, the ultimate glue guy.

The aspect of the poor receiving on Westbrook’s end can easily be shown via the way he thought his famous interaction with Lakers beat reporter Broderick Turner went down.

After a blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks on March 29, for example, Los Angeles Times reporter Broderick Turner asked Westbrook what needed to change for the team. Westbrook turned the question around on Turner, asking him what he thought should change. Turner followed up by saying it was his job to ask

Westbrook, a member of the team, for his opinion, not to give his own.

 

It was uncomfortable. But Westbrook didn’t see it that way.

 

“Russell was like, ‘I actually thought that was a healthy conversation. I wasn’t mad,'” a source close to Westbrook said. As Westbrook often points out, when a team loses, reporters often ask the same questions after the game looking for new insight. Westbrook says he gets tired of answering the same way, so he turns it around on the reporter.

 

It may not be coming off to others the way Westbrook thinks it is. But it’s emblematic of his personality and instructive of the direct way he operates.

But with all of that being said above, the problem of communicating with Westbrook couldn’t have been explained better than the following part of Shelburne’s reporting that came from an anonymous team source.

“The reality of the season was that Russ has been in a dark corner, and he doesn’t know who to trust or who to believe,” a team source said. “Then, if something doesn’t go well for him, he backs up a little more.

 

“There’s also guys in the locker room who were so disgruntled about their position that every time something goes bad for Russ, they just find a way to feed the beast.

 

“Telling him the coaches hate you or the front office is trying to get rid of you. Anything to fuel that monster, and give him an enemy.”

All of the contents of these two articles show that not only was the fit of the parts of the team at fault for how bad this season went, but the communication between the people off the court may be as much to blame as the actual basketball being played.

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