Lakers front office internally blames Klutch Sports and LeBron James for trading Russell Westbrook, according to report

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The Los Angeles Lakers entered the NBA’s 2021-22 season as the top western team and left it before the start of the next season, and as such, everyone is looking for a scapegoat to blame for their failure. Coach Frank Vogel, two years after winning the championship, was the first major figure to go to the team. Reports of his dismissal came seconds after the season ended. Now, with Vogel gone, the rest squabble over where to blame Russell Westbrook’s trade.

As Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus reports, multiple sources claim the Lakers front office is internally blaming pressure from Klutch Sports, the agency that represents both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, to acquire Westbrook. In this case, two important things should be noted:

  • While star players can put pressure on their front desk, they can’t actually make deals. In the end, the decision to trade in Westbrook’s favour had to be made by the Lakers front desk. They were the ones they needed to be on the business call. They were the ones who needed to come to terms with the Washington Wizards. They had the ability to say no. They did not practice it.
  • The stars need influence to put that much pressure on the front desk. Neither James nor Davis had much of it. James was under a guaranteed contract for two more seasons. Davis was for three people. It is unlikely that either of them used the threat of leaving as a weapon in their battle for Westbrook. If they did, the Lakers misread the situation. The stars didn’t have the clout to force the front office into anything. If the front office feels differently, it’s because they misunderstood the situation.

What’s worse here is the idea that the front office feels the need to blame anyone at all. In the end, he and their best players should theoretically have the same goal: to win the Lakers championships. This means getting on the same page and figuring out an effective way to work together, not playing the blame game in an apparent attempt to protect their jobs. If anything, the fact that they are acting against the team’s best interests in the name of job security is as reason to reconsider their job security as their mismanagement of the crew. If Frank Vogel is fired for coaching this team, why shouldn’t general manager Rob Pelinka and chief basketball advisor Kurt Rampes take responsibility for building it?

There’s no good answer to that, but at this point it seems clear that James, Davis, Belinka and the Rampes will all be back next season. If so, all parties involved here need to find a way to rebuild a productive working relationship that doesn’t include all that gossip and backstabbing.

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