Monday, November 29, 2021

Can the Lakers get out of the Russell-Westbrook experiment?

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At first glance, Russell Westbrook is more or less the same player for the Los Angeles Lakers as he was last season in Washington; at least from a statistical point of view.

His effective field goal percentage is currently within 0.003 of what he was with the Wizards last season. And while his points, rebounds and assists are all a touch lower, he also shoots fewer shots and has fewer opportunities to set up numbers while sharing the field with a veritable cavalcade of stars.

In other words, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers Brain Trust get exactly what they paid for. What they paid for, however, doesn’t look like something that will bring the franchise its 18th NBA championship.

As of this writing, the Lakers – who have been viewed by some as contenders for the title – sit at 10-10 on the season’s quarter point. And Westbrook rocks a net rating of minus 4.3 and leads the league in sales with 4.9 giveaways per competition.

With all of this in mind, some fans are already wondering if there might be a way to unplug the Westbrook experiment. You wonder – can the Lakers trade it? Will he do the team a favor and cancel his contract this summer? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is likely to be one and the same.

While money doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Lakers, who have pledged to pay more than $ 160 million in salaries this season, it’s probably the only thing that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to correct course, Westbrook to bring into the group.

The nine-time all-star and former league MVP will almost certainly pick the final year of his contract as he will pay a whopping $ 47 million in 2022-23. Even if he comes to the conclusion that he isn’t going to conquer that elusive championship ring with the Lakers, that’s not really an amount to walk away from.

We’re talking about generational wealth, people what he’s talked about in the past. Additionally, Westbrook has high ambitions when it comes to its charitable endeavors and public relations initiatives.

In the past few years there have been a few examples of players turning down large, guaranteed paydays to test the market, such as Chris Paul and Gordon Hayward. However, these players had made noticeable contributions to profits lately and were actually able to close new, long-term deals as a result.

After playing for four different teams in four years and doing clumsily, it’s hard to imagine a 33-year-old Westbrook convincing another team to do the same for him.

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For his part, former league manager and analyst John Hollinger didn’t even bother adding Westbrook to his list of the best free agents for the summer of 2022, writing:

As with Wall, Westbrook’s deal is one that likely precludes it from being traded as well. To get him out of DC, the Lakers had to surrender three quality players, four other teams had to get involved, a huge salary had to be adjusted and several draft picks were exchanged.

Such a coincidence of events becomes unlikely for the Lakers, especially given the way Westbrook’s Lakers run plays out.

If players like him and Wall made more sensible deals, their teams could likely make a move. When money is not an issue, it usually just takes another team ready to take a flyer for something to happen.

It looks like the Houston Rockets had no takers on the wall. So they were content with paying him not to play for them. The Lakers don’t have that option; They all laid their eggs in the basket of a LeBron James-Anthony Davis-Russell Westbrook kernel. It’s title or bust for her.

In other words, the ticket was punched and Lakers fans can now take the ride.


If players like him and Wall made more sensible deals, their teams could likely make a move. When money is not an issue, it usually just takes another team ready to take a flyer for something to happen.

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