Lakers News: LeBron James Chastised For Role In Russell Westbrook Deal By ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith
As we have discussed multiple times just today, $47.1 million starting point guard Russell Westbrook has been absolutely brutal during your Los Angeles Lakers’ 0-3 kickoff to the 2022-23 regular season.
Around the basketball and sports media landscape, a lot of talking heads have taken notice. Chief among them is ESPN legend Stephen A. Smith, who singles out the Lakers’ best player, LeBron James, for his role in convincing L.A.’s ownership and front office to trade for perhaps its worst player (in the team’s rotation, anyway), Russell Westbrook.
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James apparently played an instrumental role in advocating that the team trade away several core pieces of its 2020 championship roster to trade for the clearly washed-up Westbrook during the 2021 offseason.
“The Lakers are just awful at shooting the basketball… These brothers would put construction workers to shame. I mean, construction workers don’t have nothing on these brick-layers in Southern California, I mean my god! I can’t recall a time when I’ve ever seen the Lakers be this bereft of shooters. It’s that bad.”
“If [you’re] Russell Westbrook, if we say you can’t shoot, you gotta respect the fact that that is not an attack against your character, that’s an attack on your ability to shoot the basketball… Oh by the way LeBron, you had Kyle Kuzma. You had Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. They were members of the championship team, who by the way can put up buckets from the perimeter. And you were one of the people that encouraged the Lakers to unload that, so you could get a brother in Russell Westbrook that you yourself [were] on the court in Houston, in the bubble, in the playoffs, against them saying, ‘He with us.’ Every time he had the ball. Rob Pelinka, I don’t give a damn about his contract extension, [he’s] got to do something about this roster.”
As you’ll no doubt recall, Los Angeles flipped Kuzma, KCP, Montrezl Harrell and its first-round draft pick to add Westbrook to the team… and promptly went 33-49 in 2021-22.
The Lakers have had a historically bad shooting start to their first season under new head coach Darvin Ham, though as Smith notes, that is more a product of roster construction than it is the fault of Ham’s in-game strategizing.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.