Unpopular opinion here. Russell Westbrook is not the problem with regards to the Lakers' losing season so far. It's not even Rob Pelinka's (or "GM" LBJ for some of you) "flawed" roster construction. Too many guards, not enough wings? Nope, not the front office's fault. The Lakers are victims of a series of fortunate/unfortunate events, depending on how you'll view these events I'll mention below. I might get the dates wrong, but hopefully you'll get the drift.
July 30, the Russell Westbrook trade became official.
Why Westbrook? As Rob explained, the Lakers want to lessen the load on 37-year old LeBron. Understandable and logical, right? Keeping KCP, Kuzma and Montrezl Harrel won't cut it. Trading for Buddy Hield won't cut it, either. The team will still be LeBron's to carry. The team needs a more dynamic second guy to create offensively. Who are the realistic available players at the time? Some might say DeMar DeRozan. Yes, I'll agree but this is me agreeing with the benefit of hindsight. Who among you REALLY advocated for a DeRozan trade back in July? I thought so.
So, Westbrook it was. Back then, we're all saying it could work, especially if Anthony Davis will play more center, LeBron moving to power forward, and surrounding the team with 3-and-D guys. Ahhh, those wonderful 3-and-D players. The Lakers SHOULD sign those type of players.
August 2, four players signed.
Wayne Ellington was signed. Not exactly a "D" guy but an elite "3" player. Trevor Ariza was signed. Yes, he's old but he played well for the Heat the prior season so he is what the team needed, a decent 3-and-D. Dwight Howard came on board. No brainer, as the team needs a true center and he played well during the team's title run. Kent Bazemore was also signed, a decent 3-and-D player when he was with the Warriors.
So far so good, right? A defensive center, two decent 3-and D guys and an elite 3-point shooter. All cost cheap dollars to sign. With the big 3, the team needs a few 3-and-D players more, plus maybe another center and point guard as insurance.
August 3, the surprises!
Carmelo Anthony was signed, but it's not really a surprise because he wa somewhat expected to be signed. His signing was also understandable as the Lakers need a scorer off the bench, a role he played well with the Blazers. Talen Horton-Tucker was signed, as expected, after losing Alex Caruso. Austin Reaves was signed to a 2-way contract, an important development nobody saw coming.
Then out of nowhere, Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk became available for the Lakers. What should have the Lakers front office done, not sign them because the team's need were taller wing players? Nope, sign them up and figure it out later. This is the first of that series of unfortunate/fortunate events.
If the Lakers knew Nunn and Monk will be available, I doubt Pelinka would've signed Ellington and perhaps Bazemore, too. The roster would've been LeBron, AD, Westbrook, THT, Melo, Nunn, Monk, and Ariza. They could've been looking for another center and more wings.
August 28, a prodigal son became available.
This is when things got complicated. When Rajon Rondo became available, should the Lakers not sign him? But, but, but Rondo played well with LeBron. But the Lakers already have Westbrook and Nunn as their point guards, plus additional ball handling with THT and Monk. This is the second event.
September 3, Jordan returned.
DeAndre, that is, returning to Los Angeles. The Lakers need a backup to their backup center. The team could've signed a stretch 5 but that experiment failed with Marc Gasol. What worked for the team before were two centers dunking their way to a title. I personally would've love seeing JaVale McGee back, but I thought DeAndre could play that role too. Boy, was I wrong. But at the time,almost all of us thought this could work, too, right?
By this date, the Lakers have 13 players. What happened to those much needed 3-and Ds? The team was running out of roster spots.
September 27, the GOAT replacement was secured.
On this day in Lakers history, Austin Reaves was signed to a regular NBA contract. As should be. But this signing caused one less roster spot.
October 18, I don't know what to call this day.
Avery Bradley was scooped up by the Lakers off waivers. Well, they could have signed a bigger wing but who were the players available? I get the reason why Bradley was signed, as mentioned by Coach Vogel, to show and inspire the rest of the team to play defense.
So there. It isn't Westbrook's fault. His playing style, like LBJ's, is best when surrounded by 3-and-Ds. Westbrook can carry a team with the right personnel.
It isn't even the Front Office's fault, too, as shown in this player signing timeline. They knew what the team needs, but they have to sign these surprise players that became available.
Like the players, we fans just have to bunker up and support each other, support the team. But where's the fun in that right? All of us knew better than the players and front office executives.