In a new interview, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson says the Lakers and the trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook “failed” this season.
Johnson spoke with David Aldridge of The Athletic on a variety of topics, including the embarrassment of the Lakers not making the postseason after goals of an NBA championship collapsed:
“DA: So I wondered what you think it’s been like for LeBron and AD to not have made the playoffs at all this year — and for LeBron, it’s twice now in his four seasons with the Lakers.
“MJ: See, we, you had expectations, right? Everybody was saying the Lakers, with Russell (Westbrook), man, we’re talking about NBA Finals. We’re going to be one of the favorites. So, it’s definitely got to be driving them crazy — it should be driving all three of them crazy. Because we didn’t meet those expectations. We failed. Now it’s, what are we going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen next season? To your point, which is the biggest point, who’s going to lead that effort, coaching-wise? And then, so once a coach is in place, what are we going to do now about the roster? It’s really important that they get the right person, and then make, hopefully, the right roster moves. We know it can’t be a lot, but it can be something. I guess they’ve got to make those decisions.”
The chief reasons why the Lakers finished with an embarrassing 33-49 regular season record and missed out on the playoffs were injuries to both Davis and James. The two veterans, especially Davis, missed key stretches during the course of the campaign.
However, even though those absences threw huge roadblocks in the Lakers’ path to the playoffs, Westbrook’s season-long struggles also played a role.
The acquisition of Westbrook last year was seen as a central piece of the puzzle to get the Lakers back to the Finals. Instead, he struggled all season with chemistry issues, and his status with the team for the 2022-23 season remains uncertain.
All of those struggles combined ended up costing former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel his job. While Johnson no longer has an official role with the team, his opinions still carry plenty of weight.
Of course, having a healthy James and Davis team with Westbrook is something that Lakers fans didn’t witness too much this season.
While Westbrook could very well find himself on another team next season, sending him elsewhere won’t be easy due to his huge contract.