The Russell Westbrook experiment in Los Angeles has not clicked yet, and I don’t know if it ever will. LeBron James missing games with an injury doesn’t help, but things were scary even when he was playing. Acquiring Westbrook was a LeBron decision, made in place of trading for a much better shooter in Buddy Hield from Sacramento.
Like most people, I’d love to know what James and the Lakers were thinking when this deal was approved. Sure, all the old man jokes are getting played out, but it isn’t a lie. Maybe that’s why James took such offense to it before the season started and hopped on social media to call out his haters.
But on the court, Westbrook isn’t meshing with this team. Honestly, I keep wanting to give this thing a chance, but each time they’re playing, the horrible fit just jumps off the screen. The Lakers recently lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, dropping them to 5-5 this year. After playing only seven minutes, Anthony Davis left the game due to a stomach illness unrelated to COVID-19. This should have been a game for Westbrook to take over and go off. Instead, the Lakers lost by 15 points, and Westbrook registered a triple-single.
This Lakers offense looks forced right now whenever Russ is on the floor. It feels like Westbrook is almost holding back for some reason. I can understand that when James and Davis are on the floor in any combination with Westbrook. But if both guys are out, Westbrook needs to take over the game and put this team on his back. Let Russ cook, sometimes. Obviously, that’s a different Russ, but the phrase applies here as well.
The Lakers need to figure out a way to let Westbrook do his thing, especially when the two big dogs are out. The lack of chemistry on this team is appalling. Westbrook scored 9 points against the Blazers, which is 10 under his season average this year. He could need more time to get a feel for the situation in Los Angeles, but as time progresses, we should see improvements. I don’t think they’ve improved much from game 1 to 10 so far this season.
Indeed, the Lakers will give it a little more time, but if this group is still hovering around .500 near the All-Star break, it might be time to seriously consider other options at the trade deadline. Contact the Kings again and see if Hield is still on the table and figure out what it would take to acquire his services. Rob Pelinka should contact the Brooklyn Nets about a swap of Kyrie Irving for Russell Westbrook as a cruel joke.
Seriously though, the time is coming soon where the Lakers will need to make a tough decision if the team’s chemistry and production don’t begin ticking upward. If it doesn’t work out for Westbrook and the Lakers, there’s no shame in it. Social media will be relentlessly on LeBron’s line, but he should be used to that by now.
If James wants that fifth ring and Finals MVP, he’ll need to admit he was wrong about being able to win with anybody. It doesn’t seem remotely possible for James to win a title with how the Lakers are currently constructed. I know this will be tough to admit, but Westbrook will have to go if James plans on winning another ring in LA.