17 People who turned their backs on the Los Angeles Lakers

These former Lakers did not leave on the best terms.

Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard
Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard / Harry How/GettyImages
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5. Russell Westbrook

The Lakers knew they needed to upgrade their roster after a first-round playoff exit in 2021. General manager Rob Pelinka wanted to add shooting, but LeBron James had his sights on a third star. The NBA’s all-time leading scorer got his way as the Lakers traded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and a first-round pick for Russell Westbrook.

There were questions about the future Hall of Famers fit before he arrived in Los Angeles. Westbrook needed the ball to be at his best and so did LeBron. The duo never made it work. It was clear Westbrook should come off the bench, but it never happened during his first season with the Lakers. They missed the playoffs in the disastrous campaign.

Westbrook agreed to a sixth-man role in year two, but things still did not work. He was traded at the 2023 deadline in the deal where the Lakers landed Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and D’Angelo Russell, which sparked their run to the conference finals.

Westbrook admitted he was ready to leave the Lakers after being dealt. Having three stars sounded like a championship formula, but it never worked with Russell Westbrook. His resistance to buying into his optimal role cost the Los Angeles Lakers mightily.