In hindsight, the Los Angeles Lakers missed out on an important piece to making the Russell Westbrook experiment work, failing to sign Scott Brooks as an assistant coach.
The Lakers looked for a top assistant after the Dallas Mavericks poached Jason Kidd from head coach Frank Vogel’s staff last summer. Brooks is believed to have interviewed with L.A. after he left the Washington Wizards in July 2021.
However, the former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach eventually signed with the Portland Trail Blazers. NBA insider Marc Stein reports that Portland “outbid” the Lakers during their pursuit of Brooks:
I was reminded Tuesday night — and not for the first time this season — that the Lakers were outbid by Portland in the pursuit of Scott Brooks as an assistant coach to Vogel. Given the Lakers’ ample difficulties in helping Westbrook establish a role, which were predicted from the jump, one inevitably wonders how much Brooks’ presence could have helped, given his unique status as a former head coach who forged a strong connection with the headstrong Westbrook in two different cities (Oklahoma City and Washington).
Brooks might have helped the Lakers fully unleash Westbrook’s potential considering the 56-year-old’s familiarity with the guard. Brooks coached Westbrook during his first seven years in the NBA after the Thunder drafted the UCLA alum in 2008. During their final season in Oklahoma City, Westbrook averaged 28.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists.
Last year, the guard became the all-time triple-double leader under Brooks in Washington, averaging a career-high 11.7 assists along the way.
Lakers reportedly failed to trade Westbrook to avoid paying extra luxury tax
The Lakers’ reported failure in the race for Brooks’ signature doesn’t seem to be the only case of financial reasons playing a part in the franchise’s decision-making.
The Purple and Gold reportedly didn’t trade Westbrook to the Houston Rockets earlier this season because they refused to take on more salary in return — which would have cost them more money in luxury tax.
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