As the Lakers continue to watch the NBA playoffs this year, they’re still trying to piece together what went wrong during their 33-49 season. Los Angeles is trying to get back to the championship form it displayed in 2020 with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While to most it is apparent that the Russell Westbrook experiment was an abject failure, one high-profile team consultant may be seeing it differently.
Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke said Wednesday that if Phil Jackson — who is involved in the Lakers’ search to replace fired coach Frank Vogel — has his way, Los Angeles may move on from James instead of Westbrook.
“I’ve heard that [Jackson] would like LeBron traded,” Plaschke said, via Doug Gottlieb’s show on Fox Sports Radio. “I’ve just heard that but I’ve got nothing to back that up. No on-the-record stuff to back that up. I do know that [Jackson] would like to keep Westbrook and try to make that work with him.”
This out-of-left-field idea was expressed shortly after Plaschke interviewed Lakers team owner Jeanie Buss for the Times. In the interview, Buss expressed frustration with the Lakers’ season.
She continued to stand behind general manager Rob Pelinka.
“In terms of basketball decisions, I have complete confidence in our front office, which is headed by Rob Pelinka,” she told Plaschke. “He is a person that is extremely smart, extremely strategic, everything he does is thoughtful and with purpose.”
As for Jackson’s previous tenure as an executive, he was hired by the Knicks as team president in 2014 to right a wayward ship. He fired Mike Woodson and the rest of the coaching staff and hired Derek Fisher. New York went 40-96 under Fisher, who was fired 54 games into his second season. In 2017, Jackson and the Knicks mutually parted ways.