The two biggest questions surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason are who will be the team’s next coach and what will the team do with point guard Russell Westbrook. The Westbrook experiment was one of many things that did not go well for the team this season and there is a possibility he remains in purple and gold next season as Lakers legend Magic Johnson believes the pairing could still work
Anything is possible in regards to the Lakers and Westbrook this offseason. The team is still exploring trades for the point guard, but are also prepared for the possibility that he remains on the roster next season. The team is even reportedly asking coaching candidates in interviews how they would utilize the point guard and Johnson believes that is the key to Westbrook on the Lakers being successful.
In an interview with David Aldridge of The Athletic, Johnson revealed his belief that the right coach can make things work with Westbrook:
“Well, it only can work, if you’ve got the coach — the right coach. To me, it still comes down to, who’s the coach? And, then, also, he’s on a one-year, $47 million (contract). Even if you offer him (in a trade), what are you, realistically, going to get back? I told them this too — you’re going to get some contracts you probably don’t want, and they’re going to go (chronologically) past his contract. You’ve really got to think about that. Are those players you’re going to get back, are they going to really help you? I said, talk to him. Whatever happened (this season), how can you make it better with Russell? How can you make it more comfortable? So they’ve got to figure all these things out. Take him out, take him to dinner or sit him down. How can this thing be better? ‘Cause if he’s going to be there, it’s got to be better. I guess whoever they name, that’s the first thing they’re going to have to do. And you can’t sit down once. You’re going to have to sit down for a week or two to try to figure that thing out.”
Westbrook made it known after the season that he felt Frank Vogel had some sort of issue with him, but didn’t know what it was. So a new coach coming in may want to, as Magic suggests, really sit down and figure out what went wrong and what Westbrook feels he needs to be the best player he can be.
Johnson is certainly right to question the kind of players the Lakers could get back in a Westbrook deal, especially in terms of length of contract as the franchise would almost definitely have to commit to more long-term money.
Some would argue that simply getting Westbrook off the roster would be a net positive for the Lakers, but Johnson clearly still believes he can be a contributor and it will be up to the next Lakers coach to make that work if he is indeed still on the team at the start of next season.
Lakers coaching list ‘still wider’ than three reported finalists
Exactly who that next coach will be is still up in the air as though it looked as if the Lakers had narrowed the candidates down, that might not be the case.
The latest rumors suggest the team’s coaching list is ‘still wider’ than the three reported finalists of Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Portland Blazers coach Terry Stotts. There is also still some rumblings that the team is holding out hope that Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers does come available.
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