It’s been 17 games into Russell Westbrook’s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers and, needless to say, it hasn’t gone well. The team is 8-9 and Westbrook is only averaging 18.9 points a game on 42.6% shooting. A big reason the Lakers traded for him was so that the team could stay afloat when LeBron James couldn’t play. However, Los Angeles is 4-6 in games without LeBron this season.
The Lakers traded away half of their rotation and mortgaged the future to land Westbrook. That’s looking like a massive error so far. There’s still plenty of time for Westbrook and the team to turn things around but if it doesn’t get better, the Lakers need to consider all options. If they decide that the former MVP just isn’t a good fit and want to move on, a trade will be incredibly difficult to pull off, according to NBA Insider Marc Stein on Spotify Greenrooms.
“I don’t know how they get out of the experiment now,” Stein said, via Landon Buford. “You can’t trade Russell Westbrook somewhere else. If Rob Pelinka could pull it off, he might move past Tommy Sheppard for the Exec of the year race.”
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Lakers Are Stuck
Westbrook is on his fourth team in four seasons, which should’ve been a telling sign before the Lakers traded for him. His style of play just hasn’t led to championship-level basketball since he was playing with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. Now that he’s on the Lakers, his poor play has become much more obvious. Not even the most desperate team would give Los Angeles a decent deal for the guard right now.
Like it or not, the Lakers are stuck with Westbrook going forward. He’s under contract through next season. He can opt-out after this season but it’s nearly impossible to imagine he’ll walk away from the $47 million he’s set to get paid next year. The Lakers are just going to have to hope that Westbrook figures things out. Though he’s been playing some of his worst basketball, he’s still a talented player. 17 games aren’t much to go by so perhaps he can return to All-Star form at some point during this season.
Frank Vogel on the Hot Seat?
Considering the Lakers are stuck with Westbrook, all eyes will turn towards head coach Frank Vogel if the team continues to struggle. He’s only a little over a year removed from winning a championship but that roster was very different. It was built with defense and role players supporting Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Now, the roster is filled with former stars who can’t defend. Perhaps a more offensive-minded head coach would be a better fit. Stein believes that the coach is already on the hot seat.
“Frank’s seat was toasty from minute one going into the season purely by virtue of the fact he only got a one-year extension,” Stein said, via Sports Illustrated. “I cannot believe given the championship he won pretty much right off the bat, how that doesn’t get you an extension sooner, and how that didn’t get you more than a year. In coaching circles, it just kinda left a vibe of ‘well he’s being set up to be a scapegoat, in case things don’t go well.’ That’s not coming from within the Lakers’ orbit, that’s more analysis from people around the league watching the situation. He has an incredibly tough job, with an incredibly flawed roster, and if you wanna blame Vogel and think someone is going to come in and fix the Lakers issues, be my guest.”
It’s hard to fathom the Lakers firing a coach so soon after they won a title. However, the team’s championship window is closing. If they believe Vogel isn’t doing a good enough job, then he’ll be shown the door.