On the court this season, the Lakers were a mess. If not for heroics from LeBron James and Anthony Davis at varying points of the season, the Lakers were a largely flawed roster and certainly not a competitive one.
What wasn’t as known, though, was perhaps how unpleasant things were behind the scenes. Losing always tends to exacerbate problems, and the Lakers did a lot of that this season. Mix in a couple of volatile ingredients like Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley and things sound like they were bubbling under the surface.
Take it from Beverley himself who spoke on his podcast about being traded and why things didn’t work out with the Lakers this season.
“It wasn’t basketball. It wasn’t basketball. It was other s--- but other s--- that you couldn’t, like, point out. It comes and goes. Little bit here, little bit there...It’s the vibes were sometimes on, sometime off. Inconsistent vibes leads to inconsistent play.”
While he may have hit the nail on the head as to what was plaguing the Lakers behind the scenes, Beverley also very much could have been part of the problem. On Tuesday, Dan Woike of the LA Times wrote that Beverley was part of the bad vibes problem.
By the time last Tuesday’s game ended — LeBron James rightfully happy with an all-time achievement in the NBA’s scoring record and the rest of the locker room rightfully miserable after another loss — it was clear that the roster needed to be cleansed.
Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook, for very different reasons, were the logical choices.
Off the court, Beverley’s volatility and emotionality were a strain, the juice provided on the court not always worth the squeeze off of it. In the final year of his contract and with a salary that could bring back talent in return, it was a lock the Lakers would look to ship him out.
Bringing a pair of...strong personalities like Pat Bev and Russell Westbrook together and mixing in a lot of losing leads to a predictable scenario. Getting both of them off the team felt like a necessity, as Woike wrote, to have any chance at a run at the end of the season.
The hope now is that the vibes are much improved with a younger, hungrier squad that also already has familiarity with one another. D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt all have experience playing with one another — while guys like Rui Hachimura and Mo Bamba aren’t known for strong personalities or chemistry issues like a Russ or Pat Bev.
Ultimately, it was a much-needed reset for the Lakers not just on the court, but to give the team much better vibes. Hopefully, it all leads to a turnaround in the final stretch of the season.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.