Russell Westbrook wanted to join the Lakers.
He also understands how to engineer a trade.
In 2019, Westbrook reportedly asked Kawhi Leonard about joining him on the Clippers. Instead, Leonard used that request to pry Westbrook’s Thunder teammate Paul George. In the aftermath of trading George to L.A., Oklahoma City became open to moving Westbrook and sent him to the Rockets.
A year later, with James Harden ready to leave, Westbrook requested his own trade from Houston. The Rockets dealt him to the Wizards.
The clear lesson after Westbrook got foiled in his plan to join Leonard with the Clippers: Once one star wants out, a team is more likely to move its other star.
So, Westbrook went to Bradley Beal this summer.
Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:
And before Westbrook resorted to calling Leonsis, he had tried to convince Beal in the weeks leading up to the draft that they should both ask out of Washington, according to sources. Short of Beal showing a desire to also request a trade, Westbrook was hopeful Beal would at least support his efforts to get to L.A. — which, sources said, Beal did.
Westbrook had been telling those around him for weeks that he was finally coming home, but now those dreams seemed to be slipping away. So shortly before noon on July 29, he asked his billionaire boss, Ted Leonsis, for a personal favor: Find a way for him to land with the Lakers. That passionate plea set off a chain of events that resulted in the Lakers assembling one of the most star-laden and veteran teams in league history.
The decision left Sacramento management steaming, sources said.
Kyle Kuzma said a trade that would’ve sent him and Montrezl Harrell from the Lakers to the Kings for Buddy Hield was “done.” Instead, Los Angeles dealt Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kuzma, Harrell and the No. 22 pick to get Westbrook from the Wizards.
I doubt Westbrook minds some feathers getting ruffled in Sacramento due to his late maneuvering. He got exactly what he wanted, joining LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
As for Beal and the Wizards, Washington came out ahead. Beal might even be more likely to stay now. At minimum, Beal continues to show loyalty to the Wizards in the face of others telling him not to.