Reports: Lakers trading for Russell Westbrook, who requested trade from Wizards
Update: The trade is on. Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The Lakers have been seeking a third star ever since pairing LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Could they actually trade for Wizards guard Russell Westbrook?
He apparently wants it to happen, and the teams are talking.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Lakers are near a deal to acquire Washington's Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2021
This is a trade Washington wants to make with Bradley Beal in mind, creating some salary cap flexibility for the future to add talent around him, sources tell ESPN. The idea of returning to his Los Angeles roots has been appealing to Westbrook.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 29, 2021
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The last time Russell Westbrook requested a trade (from the Rockets), it was reportedly because he foresaw his star teammate – James Harden – requesting his own trade. Does Westbrook know something about Bradley Beal’s intentions or even Washington’s?
This could be the first domino in an offseason of prevalent star movement.
And of course the high-profile Lakers are involved. A LeBron-Davis-Westbrook trio would carry plenty of name recognition.
But Westbrook – a 32-year-old heavily reliant on athleticism – is declining. Though he can still produce, his ball-dominance and poor space creation wouldn’t fit well with LeBron and Davis.
At least the Lakers would be getting Westbrook without surrendering much. The two years and $91,274,624 remaining on his contract really nuke his value around the league. The capped-out and big-spending Lakers can afford to take a swing on his talent – though there is an opportunity cost.
Not that trading for an expensive Buddy Hield would be great. His shooting would at least fit better, though.
If the Lakers-Wizards trade happens, Washington will have done well with Westbrook both incoming and outgoing.
Washington unloaded John Wall’s terrible contract to get Westbrook last year. Though it could eventually land higher than the Lakers’ No. 22 pick tonight, the first-round pick sent to Houston in the Westbrook-Wall trade could also become two second-rounders by falling within its protected range (top-14 in 2023, top-12 in 2024, top-10 in 2025 and top-8 in 2026). If trading Beal, the Wizards would likely enter a rebuild that could see them bottom out, maybe even for several years.
Kyle Kuzma’s, Montrezl Harrell’s and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s contracts are collectively far more-manageable than Wall’s. (Harrell is opting in.) All three could help the Wizards remain competitive around Beal, and Kuzma could maybe even help on the other side of a rebuild.
Washington also got a year of Westbrook contributing. Making the playoffs isn’t nothing.
But it wasn’t enough for Westbrook or the Lakers, who are looking to join forces in pursuit of bigger goals.