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4 winners and losers from Russell Westbrook, D’Angelo Russell blockbuster trade

Point guards Russell Westbrook and D’Angelo Russell are now set to call new cities home. The same thing can be said about former All-Star point guard Mike Conley.

One day before the 2023 NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten together for a blockbuster trade.

Los Angeles re-acquires former top pick D’Angelo Russell from Minnesota. It also brings in Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley from Utah, creating a ton more depth in the process.

The cost was a top-four protected first-round pick in the 2027 NBA Draft, the expiring contract of Russell Westbrook, two out-of-rotation players and second-round pick compensation. As for Minnesota, it picks up Conley Jr., wing Nickeil Alexander-Walker and three second-round picks.

Here’s a full breakdown of the trade:

Los Angeles Lakers getMinnesota Timberwolves getUtah Jazz get
D’Angelo RussellMike Conley Jr.Russell Westbrook
Malik BeasleyNickeil Alexander-WalkerJuan Toscano-Anderson
Jarred Vanderbilt2nd-round pick in 2024Damian Jones
2nd-round pick in 20252027 1st-round pick from Lakers
2nd-round pick in 2026
Reported blockbuster trade

Westbrook’s time in Salt Lake City will also be short-lived with the expectation that the former NBA MVP will be bought out and hit the free-agent market. Below, we provide four winners and losers from this blockbuster deal on trade deadline eve.

Related: NBA trade tracker ahead of Thursday’s deadline

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James gets his way

russell westbrook, d'angelo russell blockbuster trade
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James spearheaded the trade for Russell Westbrook ahead of the 2021-22 season. Within the matter of months, he was pushing for Los Angeles to move the enigmatic point guard at the trade deadline last February. One calendar year later, and James gets his wish.

The newly-minted NBA scoring champion has in the recent past talked about his future with the struggling Lakers and how he wants to end his career with a winning team.

“I don’t want to finish my career playing at this level, from a team aspect. I want to still be able to compete for championships because I know what I can still bring to any ballclub with the right pieces.”

LeBron James back in late-December

While acquiring these three players doesn’t make the Lakers a legitimate contender out west, it will create a more competitive roster behind James and Anthony Davis. For a team that’s 32-50 dating back a calendar year and boasts the third-worst record in the Western Conference right now, that’s no small thing. James got his way. Again.

Related: Updated NBA trade rumors

Loser: Not sure what the Minnesota Timberwolves are doing

d'angelo russell, russell westbrook trade
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

We get it. Minnesota did not view D’Angelo Russell as a fit. The point guard is also set to become a free agent after the 2022-23 season. In short, the Timberwolves saw no future here.

Even then, Minnesota received less-than-market value for a starter-caliber point guard who has put up some solid numbers this season.

  • D’Angelo Russell stats (2022-23): 17.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.2 APG, 47% shooting, 39% 3-point

In return, the Wolves picked up an aging point guard in Mike Conley Jr. who has regressed big time recently. The 35-year-old former All-Star is averaging a mere 10.7 points on 41% shooting from the field this season.

Months after giving up a boat load of picks and assets for Rudy Gobert, Minnesota simply didn’t receive value in this three-team blockbuster. One now has to question what direction this organization is going under front office head Tim Connelly.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NBA power rankings

Winner: Trader Danny Ainge

d'angelo russell, russell westbrook trade
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The top-four protected first-round pick in 2027 that Utah received in this blockbuster could be among the most-valuable assets in the NBA moving forward. The Lakers made it clear that they are in win-now mode with the 38-year-old James leading the charge. That will impact their standing down the road and could make this an early first-round selection.

For Jazz front office head Danny Ainge, it’s just the continuation of stockpiling draft picks since he headed to Salt Lake City last year. The Jazz’ war chest is absolutely loaded right now. It’s insane to look at.

Following the trades of Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr., the Jazz have a whopping 15 first-round picks between 2023-29. Talk about team building in the truest sense of the term. Wow!

Related: Sportsnaut’s NBA Playoff and Finals predictions

Loser: Russell Westbrook’s future now in question

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook didn’t last two full seasons with the Lakers. The embattled former NBA MVP seemed to be a bad fit from the get after James pushed for the deal ahead of the 2021-22 campaign. He’s now set to hit free agency with a buyout now likely in the cards. At 34-years-old, the perception surrounding Westbrook has changed big time after a failed run in Southern California.

  • Russell Westbrook stats (with Lakers): 17.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 7.2 APG, 43% shooting, 30% 3-point

It’s going to be interesting to see where Westbrook lands once he reaches the buyout market. But he’s going to be hard-pressed to find a team that’s led by a player of James’ caliber. That’s the reality of the situation as the former league MVP sees the narrative surrounding him painted in a negative light.

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