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LeBron James is to blame for the L.A. Lakers mess

LeBron James deserves blame for how this Lakers season has become a nightmare.

LeBron James deserves blame for how this Lakers season has become a nightmare.
Screenshot: Illustration

It’s easy to just want to blame Russell Westbrook.

After all, his addition to the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been an outright disaster.

It’s fair to say that Westbrook can’t shoot. And since the start of the new year, it’s also fair to add to his scouting report that currently he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.

It really comes as no surprise that Westbrook doesn’t fit in L.A.

And quite honestly, most NBA analysts and sports radio talk show hosts predicted it as a first guess, not a second guess.

The most blame, however, belongs to LeBron James. He is the Dr. Frankenstein. He created this dysfunctional monster called the Lakers this season.

Despite wearing shorts and dribbling a basketball, James is the de facto general manager of the Lakers. Make no mistake about it. Rob Pelinka would be called Pinocchio if you could see the strings that LeBron is pulling.

This Dream Team is what LeBron wanted. He recruited Westbrook. Remember the video posted on social media with James and Anthony Davis in a pow-wow for the ages, convincing Westbrook it would work.

James wanted his own Big 3, just like the Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. James figured if he wanted a shot at another NBA title, he had to be on-par with that three-headed monster.

But the way the Lakers are currently put together, they have no shot at winning a championship.

Truth be told, there was a better fit on the table for the Lakers six months ago. They could have traded for Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield. He was the perfect fit. He can shoot from the perimeter and doesn’t need the ball in his hands like Westbrook does. That wouldn’t have clashed with LeBron. Hield would have been just what the doctor ordered.

The Kings talked to the Lakers about dealing Hield for Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. Instead of pulling the trigger on that, the Lakers opted to package those two players, plus Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and future draft picks, to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Westbrook.

There could be only one reason Hield didn’t wind up with the Lakers. He wasn’t a big enough name, wasn’t star-studded enough to play in L.A.

After all, L.A. is a star-driven spot for its teams — Mookie Betts came to the Dodgers, Odell Beckham Jr. joined the Rams and A.D. was a big splash when he joined the Lakers. And of course there’s LeBron.

But Westbrook coming to play for his hometown team has been a big flop.

At basically the halfway point in the season, the Lakers (21-21) are just a mediocre bunch in the Western Conference. Coming into Friday, they were the seventh-seeded team in the conference.

Granted, Anthony Davis has been hurt big time. The team would be better if he were playing.

Still, you would expect a team with James, Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to be much better than they have been. They beat the also-rans — sometimes — but not any good teams most of the time. That’s not a good look.

The Lakers are truly a train wreck. And it’s hard to watch Westbrook’s play and not look away.

In the last four games, Westbrook’s shooting has gone off the rails, now a woeful 25.4 percent from the field (15-for-59). In Wednesday’s clunker, a loss to the Kings, Westbrook shot 2-for-14 from the field, including 0-for-5 from three-point land.

Westbrook was a bad idea from jump street .

An anonymous NBA exec said this about Westbrook, “He’s never been a skilled player, just got by with freakish athleticism …but as you get older and you’re not as freakish as you used to be, you then have to depend on skill, and right now that’s being exposed.”

Spot on. Plus, Westbrook hasn’t really fit anywhere.

It didn’t work in OKC with Durant and Harden. It didn’t work with Harden in Houston. And it didn’t work in D.C. with Bradley Beal.

Now on a huge stage, all of NBA America is seeing it.

For sure, it’s hard to blame LeBron for the bricks that Westbrook is currently shooting.

But don’t get it twisted. LeBron is to blame for thinking he could make Westbrook work in L.A.

It wasn’t happening back in July on paper when the trade was made and it ain’t happening now, half a season later.

Lakers fans can thank LeBron for that.