The NBA’s triple-double machine would team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Lakers are wasting no time making changes after a disappointing first-round cameo in the 2021 playoffs.
Multiple reports have the 2020 NBA champions acquiring former Kia MVP and Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd overall pick of the 2021 Draft.
The trade can’t be officially announced until Aug. 6, when the salary cap becomes official and teams can also begin making moves for the upcoming season. The Lakers will also receive second-round picks from the Wizards in 2024 and ’28. The trade will be a homecoming of sorts for Westbrook, who is a Los Angeles native and helped lead UCLA to a pair of Final Four appearances.
“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” Westbrook wrote in his social media post. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way. I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”
This is the second time in three years that the Lakers have made a significant offseason trade. They acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans in 2019 for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round Draft picks.
Dennis Schroder played the point for the Lakers last season, and averaged 15.4 points, but he turned down an extension during the regular season to test free agency.
Los Angeles would mark Westbrook’s fourth different team in as many years after spending his first 11 seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The 32-year-old playmaker is coming off his fourth career season of averaging a triple-double, a feat only Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson had accomplished before.
The 32-year old Westbrook was drafted by Oklahoma City in 2008 and spent his first 11 seasons with the Thunder. He was traded to Houston in 2019 and then dealt to Washington last season.
In his lone season with the Wizards, he averaged a triple-double (22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists) for the fourth time in his 13-year career. He had 38 triple-doubles in 65 regular-season games as Washington made the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
Westbrook would team up with LeBron James and Davis to form a trio that boasts a combined 34 All-Star appearances. The Lakers are hoping such star power will be enough to recover from an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign that saw James and Davis miss a combined 63 regular season games. Westbrook is the league’s career leader in triple-doubles with 184 and gives the Lakers another playmaker to pair with James and Davis.
Davis then suffered a strained groin in the first round against Phoenix, forcing him to sit all but 25 minutes of the final three games in the Lakers’ 4-2 series defeat.
For James, the reported addition of Westbrook to the Lakers’ roster will mark the third former MVP he has played with. In each of his two stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, James teamed with former MVPs in Shaquille O’Neal (in 2009-10) and Derrick Rose (16 games in 2017-18).
Westbrook, he will become the 3rd former league MVP that LeBron will have played with joining Shaq (2009-10) and Derrick Rose (16 games in 2017-18)
Washington, meanwhile, is revamping its roster on the heels of hiring Wes Unseld Jr. as the 15th coach in franchise history. The Wizards received big numbers from Westbrook and All-Star guard Bradley Beal, but the team bowed out 4-1 to Philadelphia in the first round after winning back-to-back games in the State Farm Play-In Tournament.
Harrell is a former Kia Sixth Man of the Year Award winner (2019-20) and was once again a solid reserve in 2020-21. He averaged 13.5 ppg and 6.2 rpg in 69 games for the Lakers (one start) in what was a bit of a drop off from his 2019-20 stats (18.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg).
Kuzma spent his entire career with the Lakers after being acquired by them in a 2018 draft-night trade. He showed signs of stardom in his second season, averaging 18.7 ppg, but has hovered around 13 ppg the last two seasons and went from a starter to a reserve the last two seasons.
Caldwell-Pope is known for his defensive acumen and has improved as a 3-point shooter. Last season, he hit 41% of his 3-pointers (a career-best mark) and was a key part of the Lakers’ championship team in 2019-20. However, his stats and overall game took a step back in 2020-21 and he struggled in the 2021 playoffs, averaging 6.2 ppg and shooting 37.9%.