The Los Angeles Lakers not only made moves before Thursday’s trade deadline to improve their playoff hopes, but they set the franchise up for free agency in the summer by moving on from six players who were all on expiring contracts.
The six new purple and gold additions are young and athletic players with contract options to be a part of L.A’s long-term plans when building around the superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Among the players that departed though was the much-maligned Russell Westbrook, who’s tenure with his hometown team did not work out as he or the team had hoped.
In an interview with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka discussed Westbrook’s departure, saying it was best for everybody although it is not fair to blame him for the Lakers’ struggles:
“Our aspirations when we did the Westbrook trade was it would lead to a championship, a contending team. We didn’t meet that goal. So you have to then look to pivot if something is not working to correct it. I think this trade deadline, there was an opportunity there. I think it’s really unfair to put the last year and a half, or whatever period of time that is, on one player. I think the whole roster has to come together and fit. And part of sports sometimes is if things aren’t working, you have to fix them.”
Despite the disappointing result of the Westbrook, James and Davis experiment, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham credits Westbrook for his ‘unbelievable sacrifice.’ The future Hall of Fame point guard accepted a sixth-man role in L.A. and made the best of a tough situation.
That chapter is over though and now the primary focus for the Lakers is to get back to competing for championships with the young and talented squad around James and Davis. However, Pelinka’s philosophy to set the Lakers up for success in the summer helps kill two birds with one stone by maintaining the desire to compete in the Western Conference and be aggressive suitors in free agency.
Davis believes Westbrook is in good place mentally after trade
A lot goes on behind the scenes when an All-Star caliber player like Westbrook gets traded. Davis, who knows what it is like to be traded when he was dealt from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Lakers, shed light on what Westbrook may be going through post-trade deadline.
Davis believes that Westbrook is in a good place mentally following the trade to the Utah Jazz, where he is expected to be bought out.
It’s good to see that the point guard is still in good spirits as he gets set to begin the new chapter of his career, even if it didn’t work out with the Lakers.
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