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Skip Bayless: Russell Westbrook is 'Psychologically Devastating' to Lakers

Liam McKeone
Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages
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The trade deadline has passed and the Los Angeles Lakers did not make a single move. This is not a huge surprise, given how far over the cap the team is and how much of that cap is tied up in three players, two of which are irreplaceable. Still, there was an expectation the Lakers would at least try to shuffle a roster that has disappointed immensely this year. They did not and will now try to salvage their season after the All-Star break.

Skip Bayless had been pushing for L.A. to trade Russell Westbrook in the weeks leading up to the deadline. The only deal that made any sense was swapping Westbrook's insanely large contract for John Wall's insanely large contract. The deal was reportedly discussed but the Lakers did not want to give up their 2027 first-round pick to make it happen, and the Rockets wouldn't do them the favor of taking on Westbrook's deal unless that pick was included. Thus, an impasse was reached and never bridged.

Bayless ranted about that on Undisputed today and said Westbrook was a complete disaster on top of being "psychologically devastating" for the Lakers.

Bayless may be giving Westbrook a bit too much credit here. Or blame, I suppose. It sure does suck watching the Lakers get on a roll and then seeing Westbrook single-handedly kill momentum by bricking a jumper off the glass, missing the rim entirely more often than not. It probably sucks for LeBron James, too. As Bayless notes, The King is one of the smartest players to ever play and Westbrook's big problem is that he is aggressively misguided in what he believes to be the right decision for the basketball team on basically every possession. LeBron all but guaranteed he'd be able to make it work despite Westbrook's history of that particular issue and the Lakers are currently fighting to stay in the play-in tournament. So he was wrong.

But ditching Westbrook wouldn't have changed all the other problems with this team. What they gave up to acquire the point guard is a sunk cost unable to be recovered. The bench is terrible outside of Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk. It turns out Talen Horton-Tucker was not the diamond in the rough the Lakers thought he was when they effectively chose him over a proven good player in Alex Caruso. Kendrick Nunn and Trevor Ariza were supposed to be important role players for this team -- which should show how bad things are -- and neither has made an impact due to injury.

Swapping Westbrook for Wall would have probably improved the Lakers slightly and helped morale to an extent. But he is not the sole problem with Los Angeles. Those problems -- a very thin roster overly reliant on either aging or unproven commodities -- were set in stone when the decision was made to trade for Westbrook. And they can't be fixed this year.

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