The Lakers seemed anxious and happy to dump Russell Westbrook

When the Los Angeles Lakers traded Russell Westbrook, along with little-used players Juan Toscano-Anderson and Damian Jones, for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt in a three-team trade on Wednesday, many Lakers fans rejoiced.

But they didn’t rejoice because their team was getting a very good ball-handling guard in Russell, a proven 3-point shooter in Beasley or a super-energetic, defensive-minded big man in Vanderbilt.

But, fans were happy to be rid of Westbrook.

He isn’t quite as bad a player as some Lakers partisans have claimed over the past year or so. But he is a flawed player who simply couldn’t fit in on a squad that is built around the talents of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

According to multiple reports, people within the organization were also hungry to be done with the former league MVP.

Westbrook isn’t exactly the total ogre some have made him out to be. He deserves credit for accepting a bench role this season, which was something many doubted he would go along with.

But lately, there was tension growing between him and his teammates and coaching staff, and it got to the point where they concluded that he simply had to go.

Westbrook was starting to seem intolerable

More than one of Westbrook’s teammates have publicly vouched for him and said he has been a good teammate and human being. But towards the end of his Laker tenure, things went awry, according to Sam Amick and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Via The Athletic:

“The Lakers believe there is an addition-by-subtraction element to dealing the nine-time All-Star. The situation had become untenable over the past week or so, multiple team and league sources close to the situation told The Athletic, all of whom were granted anonymity so that they could speak freely. Two sources described the situation as “toxic.” And while Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was known to be against the idea of ​​waiving Westbrook, sources say there was a strong sense from the coaching staff that it might be necessary if no trade was forthcoming.

“Lakers coaches had grown frustrated with Westbrook’s recent behavior, and he was known to be upset with being openly mentioned in trade discussions. Both sides were ready to move on from an imperfect partnership.”

When LA was flirting with a Kyrie Irving trade days ago, James made a couple of social media posts that suggested he wanted Irving to become a member of his team. Although it may not have been his intent, it likely irked Westbrook.

The final straw

Late in the second half of the Lakers’ contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, Westbrook was supposed to be substituted out of the contest. But he took a lot of time to come off the court and sit on the bench, causing them to be hit with a delay of game warning for having more than five players on the court.

They gave up 76 points in the first half and trailed by 10 at halftime, and Head coach Darvin Ham tried to hold his players accountable in the locker room, but things went south.

“So Ham, whose offseason pitch to land this coaching job included a promise to communicate directly, candidly and fearlessly with his players, did just that when the team reached the locker room. He admonished them for focusing too much on their individual play, and implored them to take more pride and compete.

“‘His message was that it’s [expletive],’ one team source said.

“But when Ham turned his attention to Westbrook and his specific individual struggles, sources say the future Hall of Famer appeared to take it personally. As had been the case so many times before, when the coaching staff struggled with Westbrook’s unwillingness to be held accountable for his play, Westbrook wasn’t hearing it.

“Ham, sources say, was upset at a number of on-court developments from the first half. But the final straw, it seems, was Westbrook’s choice to walk off the court so slowly after he was replaced late in the second quarter. For both parties, the topic of great disagreement centered on respect — or lack thereof. In the end, with the tension in the room adding to the toxicity of their environment yet again, they agreed to disagree.”

Ham and Westbrook then got into a heated argument in the locker room during intermission. It was something, along with the fact that LA lost 133-130, that put a damper on James becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

It appears that the incident between the two was the impetus behind finally pulling the trigger on Wednesday’s Westbrook trade, after months of being reluctant to move him for one reason or another.

Some harsh words about how Westbrook’s departure feels for the Lakers

How hungry are people inside the Lakers organization that Westbrook has packed his bags and left?

Dave McMenamin says that one source used a repulsive metaphor to describe the mood inside the team now that Westbrook is gone (h/t Lakers Daily).

With Russell, Beasley, Vanderbilt and Mo Bamba incoming, the Lakers will suddenly be deeper, younger and more athletic. Russell, Beasley and Bamba will rectify the team’s biggest problem since they’re all very good 3-pointers, and Bamba and Vanderbilt are big men who love to play defense and finish strong at the rim.

For the first time in many months, the Lakers can finally move on and get back to the business of trying to become championship contenders again. The cumulonimbus cloud known as Westbrook has moved on, and the forecast moving forward calls for at least partly sunny skies in Lakersland.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire

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