The NBA offseason is off to a spectacular start.
The Lakers will reportedly acquire former MVP Russell Westbrook and two second-round picks from the Wizards in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Thursday’s No. 22 overall pick, according to multiple reports. Westbrook, who will turn 33 in November and grew up in Los Angeles before attending UCLA, averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game for the Wizards last season. He has averaged a triple-double in four of the past five seasons. Let’s rate the deal for both teams.
I don’t know about this one. The Lakers were also reportedly interested in Kings guard Buddy Hield before the draft, maybe that deal is still closing somehow, and a shooter made a lot more sense alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. . Westbrook is obviously talented, but it’s unclear how he fits into a championship-winning context.
Maybe LeBron is getting tired of ball handling responsibilities, at least Russ can help with that. Otherwise, the setting is offensively messy. Will Los Angeles continue to play a center alongside Davis? Can your offense survive the regular shooting that comes with playing LeBron, Westbrook and Davis completely? Remember the Lakers neutralizing Russ in a playoff series less than two years ago?
The backbone of Los Angeles’ success over the past two seasons has been its defense. On the other hand, the Lakers shot just 35.4% from three, the 10th-worst mark from deep during the 2021 season. Including Westbrook in that equation feels risky at best.
The trio sounds exciting on paper. And James has shown the will and ability to adapt to the superstar talent around him. That’s clearly the bet the Lakers are making in this triumvirate. Ultimately, it’s a risky move, especially when you consider how this operation consumes most of Los Angeles’ business assets.
Also, while frustrating at times, Kuzma and KCP were still very impressive members of a championship race. In the meantime, if Westbrook doesn’t work, it won’t be easy to move. And his big contract basically ties him to LeBron for the remainder of James’ current contract with the Lakers. With a few precious years apparently left in James’ career, the Lakers are taking huge risks by acquiring a talent as fickle as Westbrook’s.
Wizards: B +
This is a sensible move for Washington. The Wizards had their moments in 2021, but the Bradley Beal-Westbrook pairing wasn’t perfect.
With Beal reportedly set to stay in DC, this deal allows the Wizards to build around him with role players while gaining some flexibility in the salary cap. Perhaps Kuzma can thrive in a bigger role with more responsibility. Caldwell-Pope will add another shooting threat and absorb possessions that protect perimeter scorers. Harrell should now be in a more consistent role. And the first-round pick could help add some young talent.
With the ceiling on the Beal-Westbrook duo not particularly high, the Wizards now have a fresh start to build around Beal.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.