The Los Angeles Lakers were never able to put it together during the 2021-22 NBA season, and the two individuals who were arguably most blamed for that fact were point guard Russell Westbrook and former head coach Frank Vogel.
Vogel has already been sacked by the organization, and many fans and experts expect the Lakers to do all they can to part ways with Westbrook this offseason.
As it turns out, Westbrook’s presence on the team reportedly played a role in Vogel getting fired. Sam Amick of The Athletic broke down how the two factors were interconnected.
“When the decision was made to fire Vogel, sources say his handling of Westbrook and the inability to find a way to make him a more productive part of the program were among the factors that played a big part,” Amick wrote. “There was a strong sense that it was on Vogel to make the Westbrook experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t led to questions about whether Westbrook had been put in a position to succeed. That sure smells like the hope of a Russ revival to me.”
There is no arguing against the fact that Vogel failed in trying to get Westbrook involved in the team’s schemes in a positive way. Though Westbrook played in 78 games for the Lakers in the regular season and averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game, he never seemed able to consistently contribute to winning basketball in L.A.
Now, it will be fascinating to see if a team elsewhere in the NBA wants to take a risk on acquiring Westbrook via trade. Though he is still a big star in the NBA, it seems clear that his best days are behind him.
If Westbrook does end up having a strong season in the 2022-23 campaign, there will no doubt be even greater blame put on Vogel’s shoulders after the fact.