The Los Angeles Lakers have been the topic of conversation as of late, but much of that has been focused on the front office and decisions owner Jeanie Buss may need to make, not to mention who will be the next coach of the team. In terms of the actual roster itself, the biggest lingering question is the future of point guard Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers made the decision to bring in Westbrook last offseason and to say it didn’t work out quite as they expected would be an understatement. Though injuries did play a big role in the Lakers’ disappointment, the trio of Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis didn’t gel together much even when they were on the court together.
Ever since the Lakers season ended, there has been nonstop speculation about potential Westbrook trades, but Buss isn’t quite ready to discuss his future just yet. In an interview with Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times, Buss called conversations about Westbrook’s fit with the Lakers premature:
Buss would not speculate about how Westbrook fits into that roster, saying, “Having a conversation like that is premature. We have to now find the right coach to lead this team. Depending on the style of play that that coach wants to play, given the roster that we have, it all has to start to come together.”
Without a doubt the team’s top priority is finding their next head coach to lead the franchise and that person should definitely have a big say in the roster put together. It would be pretty difficult, however, to find a lot of evidence that the James, Westbrook, Davis trio can work based on last season.
Finding the right mix of shooting and defense with the role players will be extremely important as it often felt like the Lakers had to choose between the two last season. If the team put out shooters to help space the floor, it came at the cost of having effective defenders, and vice versa.
The most important thing for Westbrook’s fit with the Lakers will be his willingness to accept a lesser role and truly thrive in it. Entering his 15th season, Westbrook just isn’t the player he used to be, but he can still be effective in the right role. It will be up to the coach to find that and for Westbrook to accept it, and whether that comes with the Lakers or elsewhere is still up in the air.
Buss expresses confidence in Rob Pelinka but will make hard decisions if necessary
Those decisions about the next Lakers coach and the roster the team fields next season will ultimately come down to Rob Pelinka. The general manager has come under some scrutiny recently but has also made good moves in the past that helped the Lakers bring home the 2020 NBA Championship.
Buss expressed confidence in Pelinka and the front office’s ability to hire the right coach and build the best roster for the Lakers. But she also made it very clear that if things are not up to the Lakers’ standard, she will make the necessary decisions, regardless of how hard it may be.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!