At this point, the Los Angeles Lakers are a better bet to miss the playoffs than win an NBA title this year. It's gotten that bad.
This is what happens when you carelessly throw together a roster in hopes of squeezing out one more championship before the window closes. That's what the Lakers did with not just Russell Westbrook, but in building so much of this year's team, and it's failing miserably.
The Lakers went from the second-best odds to win an NBA championship before the season to sitting in the eighth seed out West, a game under .500, hoping things don't spiral more Friday night against the Magic. Westbrook was just benched in an embarrassing loss to the Pacers, and head coach Frank Vogel's job is apparently being evaluated game-by-game.
Yeah, this seems totally fine.
The Lakers knew who Westbrook was when they traded for him. They've had 13 years of a resume to look at, and they made this trade anyway. Now they have to live with the chaotic results.
Sure, it's not just on Westbrook. Trevor Ariza just looks old now; DeAndre Jordan has been a non-factor; Rajon Rondo was sent to Cleveland after 18 games; and that's just to name a few additions that have done the opposite of making this team better.
But when the head coach, apparently working on borrowed time, has an answer like “playing the guys that I thought were going to win the game" after he was asked why Westbrook was benched, it's clear he's going to try everything he can to salvage this, and is making it publicly clear he doesn't have much to work with.
Unfortunately for Vogel, the front office gave him a jumbled mess of a roster, and he'll likely end up being the scapegoat.
When you make massive roster overhauls with the mindset of winning at all costs, the risk can be as high as the reward. When you mix that strategy into a huge, unique market like Los Angeles, full of endless choices of entertainment for people, teams get more and more desperate to take those risks so they can cut through the noise.
LeBron James' title in Los Angeles feels like a distant memory at this point. For a majority of his time in L.A., it's been a collection of underachieving and frustration. Who knows how many years he has left on the court, but one thing we can see very clearly at this point, without a miracle, this season is on its way to another empty feeling when it's all said and done.