The Los Angeles Lakers‘ torrid season came to an end with two resounding wins against the Thunder and the Nuggets. But the season-ending high was hardly reflective of their overall performance or their results. They had lost 8 straight games before the 2 wins, with their stalwart LeBron James sporadic in his appearances due to injury.
The Lakers finished with 33 wins against 49 losses and sat 11th in the Western Conference standings. They failed to even make the Play-In tournament. This is especially stark considering the offseason expectations levied on the LA-based team.
The team made some major moves before the season kicked off. Russell Westbrook came in, Carmelo Anthony was signed and a few players were cut. Roster-building decisions that somehow pointed to LeBron James’ influence but more importantly towards the Lakers being contenders again.
That never held up. Their favorites tag did not hold up for long, and they continued to slip till they did not even stand a chance to make the Play-In tournament with 2 games to go. That means this offseason is even more important for the Lakers. Especially considering LeBron James enters the final year of his contract this upcoming season.
But do the Lakers have him in their plans?
Former Lakers coach wants LeBron James traded
Phil Jackson, former Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls coach, enjoys a close relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. Consequently, he also has her ear on important decisions as is her norm. Jeanie is known to have taken a lot of input from former Lakers including Kobe Bryant before his untimely death.
Jackson, who won 5 NBA Championships in Los Angeles, is currently advising his former team on their search for a new coach. Frank Vogel was fired in the aftermath of the poor season, and a new face is sought at the helm of the franchise.
However, it seems Jackson’s views extend beyond just the coaching search. The Hall of Fame coach apparently wants a change in the roster too.
Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, who just had a lengthy interview with Jeanie Buss, says he heard that Phil Jackson is in favor of trading LeBron and sticking with Russell Westbrook. We debate now on @undisputed
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 12, 2022
Plaschke said, “I’ve heard that Phil would like LeBron traded, I’ve just heard that. I do know that Phil would like to keep Westbrook and try to make it work with him.”
While Jackson is a coach of the highest caliber seen, his executive decisions have not always held the same weight. It is a questionable opinion in the least to consider holding on to Russell Westbrook in place of LeBron.
The same aging Bron who carried the Lakers for multiple stretches through the season. While Westbrook allowed his reputation to plummet lower than it ever has with his disastrous shot selection and lack of impetus in his new team.
However, there is no guarantee to what extent Jackson has a say in the Lakers’ decision-making. But if he has Jeanie Buss’ ear, we might just see a new team leader in the Lakers locker room next season.