Despite their best efforts, the Los Angeles Lakers came up short in their attempt to repeat as NBA Champions, getting sent home by a younger and inexperienced Suns team in the very first round.
In response to the failure, Lakers GM and President Rob Pelinka set out on a mission to improve the roster, eventually pulling off his first big move of the summer: landing Russell Westbrook.
The 9x All-Star has some holes in his game, but there is some major optimism that he can be the key to getting the Purple and Gold back to the top.
In a chat with Nick Hamilton of Nitecast Media, team head coach Frank Vogel expressed his excitement about working with Westbrook for the foreseeable future.
“Well, the biggest thing is that I no longer have to be afraid to play him (laughs). That’s the No. 1 thing. I’m excited to have him on my side… He’s just the ultimate competitor. He’s going to do whatever it takes to win basketball games, and I’m happy to have that on my side,” Vogel said when asked what he’s most excited about having Westbrook.
There are questions about how Russ will fit with the Lakers, especially considering his history of falling short beside other superstars in OKC, Houston, and D.C.
But Vogel isn't the only one feeling good about the Westbrook deal.
"Wee kind of had to capitalize on that because we’ve got three players taking up 90 percent of our payroll, and certainly, Russell Westbrook. You know we’ve got a big three now, and Russell is somebody that’s from L.A., went to UCLA, and I think our fans are going to be just cuckoo for him, are going to be so happy that he’s here. It’s like the return of one of our own," said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss back in August
It's definitely a feel-good story for Russ and the Lakers. As an L.A. native, it's almost like he was meant to wear the Purple and Gold from the very beginning.
Of course, all fans really care about is results -- and it will be up to Russ to prove he really is the guy that can help them capture another title.