There is a prevailing thought that the Los Angeles Lakers would have had a good chance to repeat as NBA Champions had they not experienced so many injuries throughout the 2020-21 season.
LeBron James was not 100 percent healthy as he was coming back from a high ankle injury, while Anthony Davis was forced to miss time in the playoffs due to a groin injury. The Lakers were eventually bounced in six games and they entered the offseason needing to answer several questions.
In order to hedge against either of their stars going down, Los Angeles went out and acquired Russell Westbrook and formed their own “Big 3” to rival teams like the Brooklyn Nets. The move was a massive decision that could play out in a number of ways, but vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka had a simple answer for why he decided to acquire Westbrook and make so many changes to the roster.
“Opportunity,” Pelinka said. “I think it was an opportunity to make an aggressive move that we felt like bettered our probability to bring the 18th title to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“And when an opportunity like that comes, you’re thoughtful, you analyze it looking for pros and cons and then you make a decision. That’s what leaders are tasked to do and we felt like this was an opportunity to maximize our ability to do what we’re obsessed to do and that’s to bring an 18th title to the city.”
Pelinka’s belief in Westbrook is incredibly high as he went on to say that the point guard belongs in an elite class of players because of his talent, mentality and approach to the game. The Lakers have been obsessed with chasing after another banner, and James and Westbrook might represent the best chance for the franchise to get back to the top.
However, how Westbrook will look next to James remains to be seen as the guard needs the basketball in his hands to be effective. This is a gamble on talent figuring things out and it will be fascinating to see if they are able to pull it off.
Westbrook was thinking of Kobe Bryant during trade process
Westbrook and Kobe Bryant had a close relationship off the court, and he admitted that the Lakers icon was always on his mind when trade negotiations were happening. The two will be further linked together now that Westbrook will be donning Purple and Gold.
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