Without a doubt, this is one of the worst –if not the worst– seasons in Los Angeles Lakers history. The Lakers entered the 2021-22 season as a presumptive title contender, but instead flamed out and missed playoff contention altogether.
A lot of people will argue their season was doomed when they traded for Russell Westbrook, a move that bad Lakers fans split. On one hand, Westbrook had the star power and resume Los Angeles is known to crave, but on the flip side, he had shown signs of decline and his fit with LeBron James and Anthony was questionable at best.
The guard has been a controversial figure throughout the year, and reports are now surfacing about how his Lakers tenure got off to a rocky start due to his lack of respect for Frank Vogel, via Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of L.A. Times:
Problems arose for the Lakers behind closed doors during training camp, with team staff members seeing their worst fears realized before the team played a game.
“Russ [Westbrook) never respected Frank [Vogel] from Day 1,” said one Lakers staff member with knowledge of the situation. “The moment Frank said anybody who gets the rebound can bring it up the court, which is just how the NBA is played these days, Russ was like, ‘Naw, I’m the point guard. Give the ball to me. Everybody run. Frank was like, ‘No, we have Talen [Horton-Tucker)] We have Austin [Reaves]. We have Malik. We have LeBron. We have AD. They can all bring the ball up.’ He was like, ‘Nope, I’m the point guard. Give me that s—. Everybody get out the way.
“From that point on, in training camp, it was a wrap, ‘cause now Russ is a fish out of water. He doesn’t know what to do. That’s how that started.”
Vogel has previously said he wants ball handlers who grab the defensive board to push it up court but to hear Westbrook wanted to monopolize these touches is concerning, to say the least. Vogel publicly remained supportive of Westbrook during his down stretches, but perhaps the tension behind closed doors was greater than originally expected.
While Westbrook said he was blessed to play for the Purple and Gold this year, his time with the organization feels like it is coming to an end. Plenty of changes will be made in the coming months, and hopefully the Lakers are able to move past this disappointing chapter.
Westbrook could be waived and stretched
Westbrook is due to make $47 million for the 2022-23 season, so finding a deal to move him could be difficult. However, L.A. could possibly decided to waive and stretch the final year in order to create cap space.
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