2. Russell Westbrook is an extremely expensive player that does not fit on the Los Angeles Lakers
This reason is two-fold. First, we are going to talk about the thing that was very obvious when the team traded for him: he does not fit well on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Russell Westbrook is a ball-dominant player who is at his best when he can control the game. However, at this point in his career, he is not all that great in that role with his inefficiencies. LeBron James is also ball dominant but is still actually an all-star player and he is obviously going to run the offense.
Not only does this not allow Westbrook to do what he wants (remember, he is a stubborn player) but the floor spacing impact Westbrook has is atrocious for the team. Remember before Anthony Davis got hurt and he was the worst jump-shooter in the league? Want to know why? Russell Westbrook. Davis was forced to operate out of the paint and space the floor.
Then we can talk about the money. Westbrook is making $44 million this season and $47 million next season. This is horrible for three reasons. First, he is criminally underpaid. He is the value of a rotational MLE player and he is one of the highest-paid players in the league.
Second, he kept the team from retaining valuable assets and hurt the depth. The Westbrook trade put the Lakers in the luxury tax and as a result, they had to let Alex Caruso walk to avoid a big tax bill and had to exclusively sign veteran minimum guys. Wonder why the depth is bad?
Third, there are absolutely no outs. If the Lakers traded for an expiring Westbrook contract we could at least remind ourselves that this is a one-year issue and that it will be resolved. It isn’t. Westbrook is under contract next season and the same problems that exist now will exist next year.
Every year of the window is massively important with LeBron James’ age. The Lakers may have just wasted two of those years.