The greatest point guard in Laker history is rooting for the franchise’s current point guard.
In an interview with “The Athletic,” Magic Johnson gave his thoughts about the Lakers’ disappointing 2021-22 campaign, saying that the franchise’s future coach will be the key to reversing course in Laker-land.
“Everybody was saying the Lakers, with Russell [Westbrook], man, we’re talking about NBA Finals,” Johnson said. “We’re going to be one of the favorites. So, it’s definitely got to be driving 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? … [Who’s] going to lead that effort, coaching-wise?”
Johnson then addressed Westbrook’s fit in Laker-land.
“Well, it only can work, if you’ve got the coach — the right coach. To me, it still comes down to, who’s the coach? And, then, also, he’s on a one-year, $47 million (contract). Even if you offer him (in a trade), what are you, realistically, going to get back?
“Whatever happened [last season], how can you make it better with Russell? How can you make it more comfortable? … How can this thing be better? ‘Cause if he’s going to be there, it’s got to be better. I guess whoever they name, that’s the first thing they’re going to have to do. And you can’t sit down once. You’re going to have to sit down for a week or two to try to figure that thing out.”
Is Johnson onto something? Should the new coach’s priority be to help Westbrook fit in?
Shannon Sharpe isn’t sure, considering Westbrook seemed hesitant to play third fiddle to the Lakers’ biggest stars.
“If I take a job, and the job requires me to work at night, I can’t get upset when I gotta go to work at night. I gotta be willing to say, ‘I signed up for the night shift — this is what it is.’ When Russ signed up, he had to be willing to accept being the third option. Russ is unwilling to accept that.”
Westbrook indeed struggled in his new role in his first year with the Lakers. His 18.5 points per game were the lowest since his sophomore season, and he shot just 29.8% from 3.
However, he did put up 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game, and played in 78 of 82 games, compared to 56 appearances from LeBron James and 40 appearances from Anthony Davis.
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