When Patrick Beverley was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, it seemed to signal, once and for all, the end of Russell Westbrook's inauspicious tenure with his hometown franchise.

For one thing, Beverley is another starting-caliber 34-year-old point guard on the final year of his contract — and a better fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis as a floor-spacer, second ball-handler, tenacious defender, and general embracer of the dirty work that comes along with being an elite role player and culture-setter. In other words: he possesses the qualities the Lakers want to see from Westbrook.

Plus, Westbrook and Beverley have beefed for years, and not in a trivial manner. Westbrook was understandably irate in 2013 when Beverley dove into his knee during the playoffs, and the two have exchanged heated smack talk in person and through the media ever since.

Furthermore, the Lakers were able to nab Beverley without surrendering a first-round draft pick — essential for any Russ trade — and the deal indicated that Rob Pelinka has been having productive conversations with the Utah Jazz, who still make a lot of sense as a Westbrook landing spot. Not long after the trade, The Athletic wrote that the Lakers sending Russ home à la John Wall was increasingly likely.


On Tuesday, Beverley spoke to the media for the first time since the trade. Lakers head coach Darvin Ham and, notably, Westbrook, were in attendance. The vibes were … actually not bad! For a few reasons, it now seems — should no trade materialize in the next three weeks — that Westbrook will, in fact, be at Lakers training camp (ad not home) when it commences.

Based on a few momentary interactions, Westbrook and Beverley look ready to squash the beef (see: above photo). At one point, Westbrook tossed Beverley (who had just finished a workout) a towel, which Beverley joked was Russ' “first dime” of the season after saying, “love that brother.” Beverley, who extended an olive branch to Russ via Twitter, said he was “super excited” to team up with Westbrook.

“I was asked this question two, three years ago, (about) someone I always wanted to play with and (Russ) was the first name,” he said. “…A player with that competitive spirit, that fire, that will, that dog, that nastiness, that grit, to have a running mate like that, I have never had that. So I am super excited to see where it goes. Obviously like any relationship or any marriage, things, we are going to have tough conversations. That is what comes with winning, but I am excited about those conversations, I am excited about the practices. I am just excited to be able to compete with someone like that.”

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After questions, Beverley and Westbrook then engaged in a brief dap. I'll let you dissect the tape and draw your own conclusions:

Next, Ham spoke to reporters and re-iterated — for the umpteenth time — his optimism about carving out a useful role for Russ as a two-way contributor, and remains encouraged by his discussions with the future Hall of Famer.

Ham, again, expressed confidence that both guards can start together, should they — meaning Westbrook, let's be honest — commit to the defensive end.

The Lakers still want to trade Westbrook, either now or before the February deadline, when teams might be more inclined to take on the remaining salary on his $47.1 million expiring deal. Yet, based on Westbrook's sheer presence on Tuesday, his seeming openness to collaborating with his new coworker, and Ham's stated eagerness to coach Westbrook — not to mention Jeanie Buss' definitive, inherited stance that the Lakers brand perpetually be The Marquee Destination for Stars — it is officially safe to assume that, barring a blockbuster, Russell Westbrook will begin the 2022-23 NBA season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.