Magic Johnson Says Lakers Should Keep LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 4, 2022

Los Angeles, California April 3, 2022- Lakers players including from left, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook sit with teammates on the bench late in the game against the Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena Sunday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Magic Johnson thinks the best move for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason would be to keep the core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook heading into 2022-23.

The team's former president explained the situation Monday on ESPN's Get Up:

"I think they have to bring it back. That's No. 1," Johnson said (1:57). "Because you can't attach a first-round pick to Westbrook to try to get him out. He actually played a lot better the last three weeks."

The Lakers have struggled to a 31-47 record this season and are on track to miss the playoffs, but Johnson believes the team can be better with improved focus.

"If they're going to run it back, these guys first got to be committed—forget those commercials and all the things that I think really sidetracked us as well—and commit to each other and commit to playing this game the right way," he added (2:32).

Westbrook has a $47 million player option for 2022-23, which could make him difficult to move. The guard has averaged 18.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game in his first season in Los Angeles, although his efficiency hasn't been great.

With four games remaining, he is likely headed toward career lows in win shares (1.7) and player efficiency rating (15.0). 

Johnson has been impressed with Westbrook's late-season run, however, which includes an average of 21.6 points on 52.4 percent shooting over his last nine games. More consistency from the nine-time All-Star could lead to more success for Los Angeles next season.

Another issue for the team this season was injuries, with James held to just 56 games and Davis playing only 39. 

"I think the biggest thing that I think about personally is what we could have been, had we stayed healthy all year," Davis said after Sunday's loss. "What could we have been."

Injuries have been a problem for Davis throughout his career, but the Lakers can at least hope he turns things around for a productive season in 2022-23.

The front office still must make significant moves in the offseason with much of the rotation—including Malik Monk, Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard—set to become free agents.