One of the stranger NBA days in recent memory came when the Los Angeles Lakers were supposedly nearing completion of two trades that contradicted each other: one in which the team would acquire Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, and another in which they would acquire Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook, both with essentially the same trade pieces being sent out from L.A. A new report from The Athletic's Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick finally clarified the situation.
According to the report, Westbrook was always the Lakers' original target, but the Wizards had been hesitant to deal him, so they decided to shift their focus to Hield. When Westbrook became aware that L.A. was set to trade away the pieces that were necessary to get him to his hometown, he spoke with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis personally and requested that he allow Westbrook to leave Washington to go chase a championship with LeBron James and co. Leonsis approved, and the Lakers were able to grab their original target at the last minute.
The Kings were reportedly not happy with the way the situation panned out—they had no clue they were the backup option.
Whether the Lakers made the right choice remains to be seen. Westbrook is no-doubt a bigger name than Hield (and a bigger contract), but his skillset could create some redundancies alongside James, and his inability to shoot (a skill Hield has in spades) could be a hinderance when he doesn't have the ball in his hands. Even so, he's a former MVP, and if Head Coach Frank Vogel can find a way to maximize him, the deal might turn out to be well-worth it.