The Los Angeles Lakers seem intent on shaking up their roster on the night of the NBA Draft, as they’re nearing a trade that would land them Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook.
Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news of Westbrook’s impending arrival in LA, and later reported that the Wizards would receive the 22nd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, two future second-round picks, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell:
ESPN’s Bobby Marks pointed out how because of Kuzma’s inclusion in the package, the trade won’t be finalized until August 6:
All signs point to Westbrook suiting up for his third different team in as many seasons following one-year stints with the Houston Rockets and Wizards respectively. He was with the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise before then.
But Westbrook played college basketball at UCLA and was born in Long Beach, California, so a homecoming to the Lakers has obvious appeal to him. It’s just a matter of whether the Purple and Gold could give up enough to get him, and it seems they were able to work it out.
The prospect of teaming up Westbrook with LeBron James and Anthony Davis is obviously tantalizing in terms of star power. Whether or not it’d translate to a championship is another matter.
Westbrook is an inefficient perimeter shooter and thrives most as a ball-dominant guard. LeBron is at his best with the ball in his hands, and with lots of 3-point marksmen around him. Davis can dominate a game on any given night, yet struggles with consistency. His style of play can slow down the action, which doesn’t mesh with Westbrook’s skill set.
Just about all that’s left for Westbrook to accomplish in his decorated career is an NBA Finals triumph. LeBron and AD accomplished that in the Orlando bubble in 2020, but were banged up down the stretch of last season, resulting in a first-round exit at the hands of the eventual West champion Phoenix Suns.
Westbrook helped the Wizards rally to a playoff berth alongside Bradley Beal, but Washington parted ways with head coach Scott Brooks. Considering how close Westbrook is to Brooks dating back to their shared time in Oklahoma City, the writing was on the wall that the veteran floor general would leave the nation’s capital, too.
Will Westbrook ultimately work with the Lakers? It’ll be among the most fascinating storylines of the upcoming NBA season, that’s for sure.