When general manager Rob Pelinka brought in Russell Westbrook and a number of other quality additions to the Los Angeles Lakers roster ahead of the current season, there were many neutrals (and Lakers fans) who couldn’t help but lick their lips in anticipation.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as well as many had hoped. The Lakers failed miserably, and while the disaster that overcame them can’t be laid solely at Westbrook’s feet, he certainly didn’t help matters.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ astounding 33-49 record came despite most sportsbooks, as seen on www.sidelines.io, predicting that Frank Vogel’s team was second only to the Brooklyn Nets in the betting odds. As it turned out, the Crypto.com Arena side didn’t even make it to the play-in tournament, and as a result, their head coach was sacked.
So what now of Westbrook? Many had expected the experienced nine-time NBA All-Star to be moving on, but it appears he is staying. It turns out that the search for a replacement for Vogel has seen respective candidates asked about how they might best use the 33-year-old next season, suggesting he isn’t going anywhere.
The Athletic’s reporter Sam Amick believes Westbrook is destined to be at the Lakers for at least another season;
“Despite the widely held belief that the Lakers would find a way to trade Westbrook before the start of next season, sources say their coaching candidates have been asked to discuss how they would use him in their system during interviews. The takeaway for candidates, it seems, is that maximizing Westbrook’s presence after his disastrous 2021-22 season is considered an important part of this job.”
Not only was Westbrook largely ineffective, but he also didn’t exactly ingratiate himself with the fans and isn’t the kind of player who takes criticism, even of the constructive kind, very well, and all signs seem to be pointing to the 2017 NBA MVP towards the exit.
Another season of Westbrook will cost the Lakers $47 million, and that’s an outlay that many don’t want to see the franchise covering, not least because even on a playing level, he simply didn’t cut it last season.
The lack of impact made by Westbrook effectively, according to reports, cost Vogel his job and may well result in a similar situation for whoever takes the vacant position at the Los Angeles Lakers.
On this point, Amick explained;
“When the decision was made to fire Vogel, sources say his handling of Westbrook and the inability to find a way to make him a more productive part of the program were among the factors that played a big part. There was a strong sense that it was on Vogel to make the Westbrook experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t lead to questions about whether Westbrook had been put in a position to succeed. That sure smells like the hope of a Russ revival to me.”
If a star player’s underperforming season becomes the subject of firings, you may have to wonder where the actual blame lies.