The Los Angeles Lakers‘ busy offseason quickly became headlined by acquiring star point guard Russell Westbrook. However, the Lakers’ front office’s roster construction through free agency has drawn criticism. It’s now led Westbrook to issue a stern response to the doubters.
Lakers trade for Russell Westbrook
The Lakers quickly shifted things into high gear this offseason after acquiring Westbrook.
The nine-time All-Star’s arrival quickly provides the team with the playmaking guard the front office wanted to pair alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It also forms a Big 3 that will anchor the veteran-laden roster.
Westbrook is coming off another highly productive campaign, averaging 22.2 points, a league-best 11.7 assists, and career-high 11.5 rebounds. It marked the fourth time in the last five seasons that he’s averaged a triple-double.
As the 32-year-old embarks on his join with the Lakers, he wasted no time responding to the doubters.
Russell Westbrook delivers unfiltered message to haters doubting the Lakers’ roster
Since the Lakers landed Westbrook, the franchise went full bore with adding proven veterans around the star power.
The front office dove into free agency, adding seven players for around $15 million combined, primarily through veteran’s minimum contracts. It included signing Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, and Wayne Ellington.
After the slew of moves, the age of the roster began to draw criticism, creating the narrative the team may be too old to compete for an NBA title. It quickly led LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to respond to the doubters.
Meanwhile, Westbrook recently took the unfiltered approach to playfully lash back during an interview on actor Kevin Hart’s Straight to the Hart podcast.
“Listen We got a team of nice experienced vets that’s going to kick these young motherf—kers’ asses,” Westbrook said. “That’s what we are going to do”
Like several of his teammates, Westbrook is already tired of hearing about the roster age. Los Angeles also possesses several younger players, with Anthony Davis (28), Malik Monk (23), Kendrick Nunn (26), and Talen Horton-Tucker (20).
The vast majority of the roster features older talent, but the Lakers hold a solid balance between the age ranges. Ultimately, the critics can only be silenced by proving it on the floor.
Russell Westbrook’s fit remains a prominent concern
The roster age aside, several concerns have arisen around the Lakers‘ newly constructed roster.
Much of that chatter centers on Westbrook’s fit alongside LeBron James due to his playing style. The former league MVP has primarily excelled with the ball in his hands to playmake with scoring and passing.
Westbrook will play alongside another ball-dominant player, forcing both stars to adjust their respective games. The 32-year-old will likely do the bulk of the heavy lifting of playing off the ball more due to James’ history of finding championship success as the primary ball-handler.
During his introductory press conference, Westbrook addressed the expected changes ahead.
“As you know, LeBron is one of the best players to play this game,” Westbrook said. “His ability to do everything on the floor allows me to just figure it out. I’m coming to a championship-caliber team, and my job is to make sure I am able to make his game easy for him and I’ll find ways to do that throughout the game.
“As it pertains to ball handling and all that, it really doesn’t matter. There are many different ways you can impact the game without having the ball in your hands. I have been able to do that for many years. I will figure it out.”
It doesn’t mark the first time he’s played with ball-dominant players as he’s taken the floor alongside Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Bradley Beal. When Westbrook attempted to do much more than he needed to be a prominent offensive factor, things became an issue.
However, it’s the first time he will play alongside two established top talents. It will diminish his necessity to take over games as he will have two bonafide stars to provide significant offensive lift.
Above all else, the opportunity to compete for an NBA title may quickly squash any concern.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.