Lakers, Wizards formally agree to Russell Westbrook trade
The Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards have formally agreed to a blockbuster deal that will send Russell Westbrook to L.A. in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the trade moments after the Houston Rockets — one of Westbrook’s former teams — selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
The Lakers will receive second-round picks in 2024 and 2028, per Shams.
Lakers receive Westbrook to team up with LeBron and AD — along with two future second-rounders. Washington receives some strong rotational pieces and the No. 22 pick tonight, giving GM Tommy Sheppard the ability to continue improving the Wizards organically and flexibly. https://t.co/N0HMSzE0Ci
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
The Lakers will mark the 2017 MVP’s third team in three years.
The paradigm-shifting trade had been reported earlier but was formalized mid-draft. The Lakers had been close to a deal with the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield, but the Wizards prevailed in trade discussions.
Montrezl Harrell picked up his $9.7 million player option earlier on Thursday — two days before the official opt-in deadline (Aug. 1). That decision cleared the way for the Lakers to include Harrell in a package with their first-round pick. (Trezz is repped by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who surely worked hand-in-hand with the Lakers.)
Westbrook, the NBA’s all-time triple-double leader, is due $44 million in 2021-22. Kuzma, KCP (both owed $13 million in 2021-22), Harrell, plus the first-round pick ($2.6 million) get close enough to Westbrook’s money to swing a trade.
The former UCLA Bruins star has a $47 million (!) player option for 2022-23, though, in theory, he could rework that to benefit the Lakers. Shortly after his report, Woj said on air that the Long Beach native was “enthusiastic” about playing in his hometown.
Lakers GM Rob Pelinka has been on the hunt to acquire a third star and perimeter play-maker this summer. He seems to have found his man.
All else aside, it's hard to envision Pelinka checking in with LeBron and AD re: Westbrook and both stars not emphatically endorsing the move
— michael corvo (@_michaelcorvo_) July 30, 2021
His former colleague approved the Lakers’ acquisition.
With Westbrook joining LeBron and AD, the Lakers now have their version of the Big 3. All we need now is a couple of shooters and we’ll be tough to beat!!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 30, 2021
Westbrook will not improve the Lakers’ three-point shooting and spacing — the other priority for Los Angeles — but more deals could be in the works. Free agency opens on Monday, meaning any potential signs-and-trades involving impending Lakers’ free agents — for instance, Dennis Schroder — can’t take place (and probably won’t be reported) until next week.
Westbrook is a career 30.5% three-point shooter, but he’s averaged a triple-double in four of the past five seasons. In 2020-21, he put up 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists per game and helped lead the Wizards to a surprise run to the playoffs. His night-to-night intensity and production will help spell LeBron and Anthony Davis throughout the long season — emotionally and physically. Of course, his impact can’t truly be evaluated until the postseason.
Kuzma’s four seasons with the Lakers can be split into two distinct eras. He averaged 16.1 PPG as a rookie and was the team’s second-leading scorer (18.7 PPG) in 2018-19. Once Davis came aboard, he admirably evolved into a Swiss-Army Knife supporting player and dramatically honed his defense, earning a championship ring and contract extension. However, in 2020-21, he couldn’t quite tap into his scoring ways when called upon and was frustratingly underwhelming in the playoffs (6.3 PPG). Still, the Wizards are getting a versatile, team-first 26-year old forward.
KCP, also a Klutch client, was tied with Kuzma as the longest-tenured Laker. He was arguably the team’s third-best player in the bubble title run. His defense, energy, and three-point shooting (40.1% in 2020-21) will be sorely missed in Los Angeles.
Harrell averaged 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his one Lakers campaign but averaged his fewest minutes since 2017-18. He was not thrilled about it. He’ll try his luck in what should be a more fruitful free-agent market in 2022.