Russell Westbrook trade: Lakers nearing deal to acquire former MVP from Wizards, per report

The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing a deal to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards, as first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The Lakers are discussing a deal that would send Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell to Washington for the former MVP. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that the Lakers could also include their 2021 first-round pick. Westbrook reportedly wants a trade and the Lakers are his preferred destination.

Earlier Thursday, Wojnarowski reported that Harrell would opt into the final year of his contract at $9.7 million. The Lakers needed Harrell to opt-in for salary purposes in a possible trade. Westbrook is set to make over $44 million next season, so every penny counts in getting up to his figure. He would also matter in a possible backup deal should this one fail to reach the finish line. 

The Lakers and Sacramento Kings were discussing a deal that would send Harrell and Kuzma to the Kings for sharpshooter Buddy Hield. The deal is not yet agreed upon, according to Wojnarowski, but there was “momentum towards its ultimate completion” before the Westbrook news broke. Still, according to Charania, Westbrook has become the Lakers’ primary focus.

The Wizards would still reportedly plan to keep Bradley Beal if they make this deal, according to Wojnarowski. The idea for them would be to create future flexibility to retool the roster around him. Beal can become a free agent next offseason.

On paper, Westbrook is an odd fit in Los Angeles. The Lakers ranked 24th in 3-point attempts and 21st in 3-point percentage last season. Westbrook is a notoriously poor 3-point shooter. He has made only 30.5 percent of his attempts in his career, further limiting spacing for LeBron James and Anthony Davis as they drive to the basket. That was already a problem over the past two seasons. 

But the Lakers have been desperately searching for a secondary playmaker to help take ball-handling pressure off of James. Westbrook has led the NBA in assists in three of the past four seasons. He may not be a shooter, but he’s a dynamic scorer that will make the Lakers even deadlier in transition and on the glass. That makes him an imperfect and risky addition, but one with a good deal of upside. 

Westbrook is a Los Angeles native. He played collegiately at UCLA. The Lakers would be his fourth team in the past four seasons, but they are probably his best chance at winning a championship.

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