Matt Slocum/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired point guard Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, who reported on the deal’s parameters.
Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Lakers and Wizards were “near a deal” that involved Westbrook going to L.A. Charania also reported that L.A. and Washington were in “serious talks” surrounding a Westbrook move.
That has come to fruition.
Westbrook is a nine-time All-NBA player and two-time scoring champion who won the 2016-17 NBA MVP award. He has averaged a triple-double in four of his 13 NBA seasons, which began with an 11-year stint for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 32-year-old spent the 2019-20 season with the Houston Rockets before being traded to the Washington Wizards. Last year, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, an NBA-high 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds for a Wizards team that earned the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference.
Now he moves onto a Lakers team looking to bounce back after a disappointing first-round playoff exit against the Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns.
L.A. struggled amid long-term injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who missed a combined 63 games. The Lakers didn’t fare well without either of them, going 12-15 in regular-season games James missed (30-15 otherwise) and 19-17 sans AD (21-13 with him).
If anything, Westbrook gives the team insurance if Davis or James misses time next year. He can help replace that lost production should either player miss time. James averaged 25.0 points, 7.8 assists and 7.7 rebounds and AD posted 21.8 points, 7.9 boards and 1.6 blocks.
It’s unclear how all three will mesh together, especially with Westbrook, James and Davis all used to being the No. 1 player on their teams during their respective careers, but their collective talents could easily make L.A. an NBA title contender once again.
Washington now sports a much deeper rotation with Kuzma, Harrell and Caldwell-Pope in the mix. The team’s production largely came from Westbrook and Beal last year.
The Wizards got some help in the form of Davis Bertans, Daniel Gafford and others, but the Wizards’ depth should keep them in the playoff contention once again.
Kuzma should have more chances to shine as he did during his first two years in purple and gold, when he averaged 17.3 points on 45.3 percent shooting.
Harrell had a down year with the Lakers, but the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year is just two seasons removed from averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Caldwell-Pope shot a career-high 41.0 percent from the three-point line last year, and he should help a Wizards team that finished just 22nd in three-point percentage in 2020-21.