After an offseason of constant rumors and speculation of a potential Russell Westbrook trade, the Lakers decided to keep the highest-paid player from last year’s roster on the team. One of the final potential suitors to take Westbrook was the Utah Jazz, who likely ended any hope of a deal by trading wing sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanović to the Detroit Pistons for Kelly Olynk and Saben Lee.
With media day and preseason fast approaching, the Lakers and Westbrook will need to walk back and reconcile their differences. From the struggles on the court to the exit interview, there were tons of moments that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
The Lakers decided to move on from last year by not only flipping the roster once again but hiring a new head coach in Darvin Ham, who reportedly signed in part to get the best out of Westbrook. Ham has preached a “4 out 1 in” offense all summer to create the maximum amount of space on the court. The improved offensive positioning is favorable to allow Westbrook to continue to attack the basket without the high volume of turnovers we saw last year, in which he ranked 6th in the league.
Ham has also preached accountability, in what will show up most on defense. Westbrook has a very small track record of being even average on that side, with large lapses in focus and intensity throughout his career. In a roster full of undersized guards, he must be at the least passable on defense. The Lakers won’t ask him to pick up 94 feet like Patrick Beverley, but just be solid to where he’s not actively hurting the team. He should still have the strength and size to hold his own against most of the power guards and wings.
The highly anticipated trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Westbrook finished only playing 21 combined games together, posting a minus-3.5 net rating in almost 400 minutes on the floor. The Lakers are hoping health combined with a new staff, can produce a more fruitful outcome this season.
On this week of “I Love Basketball” Raj and Sabreena dive into what a good outcome for Westbrook looks like on the floor, and if they can go .500 in their tough opening stretch.
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