Because the N.B.A. braces for the beginning of free company negotiations on Monday, a pending blockbuster commerce that might ship Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers is already within the operating to be this summer time’s most impactful transaction.
The Lakers are near buying Westbrook, who received the Most Useful Participant Award in 2017, from the Washington Wizards, based on an official with data of the deal who was not approved to debate it publicly till it’s finalized.
As a part of the commerce, Washington will obtain Lakers ahead Kyle Kuzma, ahead Montrezl Harrell, guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the draft rights to Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, whom the Lakers chosen with the No. 22 general choose on Thursday. The Wizards may also ship two future second-round draft picks to the Lakers.
The proposed commerce was first reported by The Athletic.
The commerce injects extra expertise into the Lakers, the storied franchise that bowed out early from this yr’s playoffs a season after claiming its seventeenth championship.
For as soon as, a commerce rumor involving Kuzma proved correct. The Lakers’ choices have been restricted due to salary-cap constraints and Kuzma, one of many group’s few homegrown skills, had heard his identify in doable commerce eventualities for years.
The Lakers began their title protection with little relaxation after successful the championship over the Miami Warmth throughout the N.B.A.’s 2020 restart at Walt Disney World close to Orlando, Fla.
The quick break appeared to have an effect on the roster. The Lakers performed competitively early within the 2020-21 season, however hope for a excessive playoff seeding light when LeBron James and Anthony Davis missed chunks of the season due to accidents.
The Lakers defeated Golden State in a play-in recreation to qualify for the Western Convention’s seventh seed. The convention’s eventual winner, the Phoenix Suns, downed the Lakers, with a severely restricted Davis, in six video games within the first spherical.
Los Angeles skilled inconsistent play from its guards all through the common season and the playoffs. Level guard Dennis Schroder, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer time, scored a mixed 8 factors in two pivotal losses to Phoenix. Caldwell-Pope was a key cog throughout final yr’s title run, however a bruised left knee restricted him in opposition to Phoenix. Harrell, who received the 2020 Sixth Man of the 12 months Award with the Los Angeles Clippers, obtained restricted motion within the playoff collection.
The addition of Westbrook to the Lakers returns James to his custom of enjoying alongside top-level guards. In Miami, James received two championships with Dwyane Wade. He received one with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland.
Now, he’ll add the 32-year-old Westbrook to his record of All-Star guard teammates. On Thursday, James shared am picture of himself, Davis and Westbrook in Lakers jerseys from his Instagram account.
The Lakers nonetheless have to spherical out their roster by including shooters who can area the ground, however Westbrook, a California native and strolling triple-double risk, ought to present a right away increase to the workforce’s perimeter playmaking.
The Wizards traded for Westbrook earlier than final season, parting with their longtime level guard John Wall in a take care of Houston. In Washington, Westbrook reunited with Scott Brooks, who had coached him in Oklahoma Metropolis.
For the fourth time in Westbrook’s 13-season profession, he averaged a triple-double over a season, amassing 22.2 factors, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per recreation.
The Philadelphia 76ers ousted Washington from the playoffs in 5 video games within the first spherical. The group parted methods with Brooks and employed Wes Unseld Jr. The Westbrook deal affords Washington an opportunity to reset and adaptability because it hopes to retain capturing guard Bradley Beal, who can turn into a free agent subsequent low season.