James Worthy Criticizes Lakers’ Win-Now Mentality That Led To ‘Embarrassing’ 2021-22 Season
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers went into a win-now mode last summer, which backfired badly during the 2021-22 season.

The Lakers prioritized experience over youth and long-term planning in the previous offseason, putting together the oldest roster in the NBA. They brought in Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, and reunited with Dwight Howard, among other signings, hoping the vastness of talent on the roster would lead the team to glory — regardless of how many miles the players had on their odometers.

That came after L.A. had already traded the so-called “Baby Lakers” — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart — in addition to a slate of future draft picks to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019.

Lakers exceptionalism inevitably leads to high expectations — something Frank Vogel learned the hard way this year. But franchise legend James Worthy said on the “Stoney & Jansen Show” that L.A. has been too desperate in its attempts to achieve immediate success over the last decade:

“The Lakers, I think they have refused to build over the years,” Worthy said. “We’ve had some good players: [Brandon] Ingram, [Julius] Randle, [Lonzo] Ball. We have tried to win quickly. In Kobe’s last few years, we brought in [Steve] Nash who was a little bit older, Dwight Howard came in with a back injury. We traded away draft picks to try to win immediately and I think they’re going to have really think about how they need to build.

“You look at Memphis, you look at the way Boston is playing right now, you look at the way Milwaukee has built a team over time. We need to create players that have cohesiveness. We had it a couple years ago and we traded it all away to try to win, to try to match what Brooklyn was doing and what other teams were doing with their Big 3 players. I think that’s going to go away. That’s an illusion, having the Big 3. You see what happened in Brooklyn, you see what happened with the Lakers. Even though everyone experienced injuries, you still should be playing better and you should definitely be in the playoffs. So the Lakers — it’s embarrassing and it’s unacceptable.”

Worthy offered the Lakers some bitter words during the 2021-22 season while they were meandering to a 33-49 record, missing the playoffs for the second time in LeBron James’ four years with the team.

Among his comments, the 61-year-old said L.A. “didn’t seem like they believed in anything that they were doing” after a March loss to the Houston Rockets, who would end up with the worst record of the campaign.

Stotts ‘intrigued’ by prospects of coaching Russell Westbrook on Lakers

Before the Lakers can turn the page on the disastrous 2021-22 season, they need to pick the new head coach who will lead the franchise’s new project in the coming years.

Terry Stotts reportedly was the first of the three final candidates for the position — which also include Kenny Atkinson and Darvin Ham — to sit down with L.A.’s leadership again in the last round of interviews.

Stotts is believed to have told the Lakers he is “intrigued” by the possibility of coaching Russell Westbrook — and that he believes he can help the 2017 NBA MVP be more effective than he was in 2021-22.

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