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Russell Westbrook trade in the works with Lakers and Wizards

Lakers, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Kuzma, Wizards

The NBA draft hasn’t even begun, and yet fireworks are popping throughout the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly closing in on a huge deal with the Washington Wizards which would bring Russell Westbrook to L.A. in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and possibly more.

The Lakers getting Russell Westbrook, if this deal is finalized (it currently isn’t), would represent a homecoming for Russ, who played college basketball at UCLA and led the Bruins to the Final Four. Westbrook, at his height, was a supernova-level force of nature who made the 2012 NBA Finals with the Oklahoma City Thunder and came within one win of toppling the 73-win Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Western Conference finals.

Westbrook is not the same player now, but the prospect of being liberated from a generally dreary situation with the Wizards and being able to play alongside LeBron James could be just the jump-start his career needs with the Lakers.

An obvious tension point if Russell Westbrook comes to the Lakers is how ball-dominant he would be. LeBron James remains a brilliant, creative ballhandler and passer. Though built like a linebacker and able to play power forward if needed, LeBron has consistently played the role of point guard with great skill, getting his teammates in the right spots and making the timely pass to set up a 3-point shot or an easy basket.

Russell Westbrook, in his prime, was a lethal free spirit whose energy and relentlessness made him very hard to stop on dribble drives to the basket. Westbrook’s jump shot has long been a comparative weakness when measured against the other facets of his game. How he plays offense with LeBron and Anthony Davis would be a natural point of concern. The Lakers clearly think they can bring him on and create the right fit. It will be fascinating to watch if L.A. is able to finalize this deal with the Wizards.

The Wizards, if they complete this move with the Lakers, would create depth on their roster to help Bradley Beal. Trading Beal is not what the Wizards have in mind, which is a big story in and of itself:

The Lakers were also linked to Sacramento Kings star shooter Buddy Hield, but this potential Wizards deal clouds the landscape on that front.

Buckle up — we’re just getting started on draft night. We’ll keep you posted on how this particular story develops. Watch for updates.