As Laker fans beg Rob Pelinka to get some shooters on this roster, one of the better shooters who has suited up for the purple and gold in recent memory is also confused by the makeup of this team.
In a conversation with Howard Beck on “The Crossover”, Danny Green expressed some roster construction thoughts that have become prevalent among this fanbase, but it hits differently hearing them from a current player and former Laker. Green was asked if he thinks about what has happened to the 2020 title team over the last two years, and his response wasn’t exactly surprising:
“We know what happened. I think it’s interesting, I mean all the teams that I've played for, you try to see what kind of moves they make, what direction they're going in, and especially if you win a championship there, it's home, you have some type of invested feeling toward that city, toward that group, toward some of the players that are still there, the organization. I mean we know what happened, things have changed, they have Dennis back now for cheaper, I thought he was a good fit for them. I thought there was a lot of good pieces that were good fits for them that they let go or traded away and they thought they had a better fit. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what you need around LeBron and AD.”
Green’s diplomacy in his answer is pretty funny. He starts by obliquely alluding to the mistakes the front office has made over the last two offseasons and even gives the Lakers some credit for the trade that sent him away from Los Angeles in exchange for Dennis Schröder. But at a certain point, there’s no denying that there was a clear blueprint — shooting! — for how to build a team around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Lakers ignored it.
That this critique is coming from Green, a career 40 percent 3-point shooter and one of the first players to ever receive the 3-and-D designation, is not lost on the listener. Green was the first spacer that the Lakers decided to part ways with, even if Schröder did end up being a strong fit on the Lakers; Green’s departure unfortunately heralded a depressing trend over the next two years.
Green has some sympathy for the front office’s thought process but made it clear to Beck that the Lakers should have prioritized shooting and defense around their stars instead of an additional playmaker. As someone who had two separate stints as a teammate next to LeBron, Green is as aware as anyone that the King would rather have the ball in his hands, even if he publicly suggests otherwise.
The former Laker also had some good insight into what it’s like to go through the crucible of competing for a championship with LeBron, especially in Los Angeles. As someone who earned the wrath of the fanbase, despite not deserving it at all, Green is sensitive to what Russell Westbrook is going through, even if he believes the Lakers shouldn’t have traded for Westbrook in the first place:
“I feel for Russ that they're putting everything on him, and he's at home and his home fans and people there are giving him a lot. And it's not his fault they're losing, by any means, it's not one player. It's a tough situation.... Russ to me is one of the most confident guys in our league, but it goes to show that city and those bright lights can kinda get to anybody, and you see him going through it. I feel for him. It's a tough place to play, it's a tough place to be under that microscope and playing alongside those guys.”
Green dealt with that microscope even as he won a championship for the Lakers, so he knows there isn’t much Westbrook can do to avoid the scrutiny. The team’s front office could have made Westbrook’s job easier had they constructed a more coherent roster, but that didn’t happen either. And that means Green is still observing his former team from a distance, wondering how the roster of the 2020 champs could have eroded so swiftly and so thoroughly.