As draft day came around yesterday, surely it was going to be the highlight of the day in the NBA. In the NBA, there are no such thing as off days, even in the off-season. With free agency set to begin next week, the Lakers made a surprising blockbuster trade that was tweeted by the Athletics’ Shams Charania at around 5PM PT, to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Wizards, along with a 2024 second-round pick and a 2028 second-round pick.
The Washington Wizards have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook, 2024 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and No. 22 tonight, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
The Lakers sent Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell to the Wizards along with the 22nd pick in the NBA Draft who ended up being Isaiah Jackson from Kentucky. Jackson was then traded to Indiana for Aaron Holiday and the 31st pick. The Lakers gave up some defense in Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma, who’s really come along defensively the past couple of seasons. For Kuzma, this will be a fresh and much needed new start for him, which he can shine more in a defined role in Washington.
The acquisition of Westbrook likely means that Dennis Schroder won’t be back with the Lakers. The Lakers acquired Schroder last season by trading Danny Green and the 28th pick to the Thunder. So, what do the Lakers have in Westbrook? If you’ve watched him over the years, they’re getting a player that gives you a thousand percent effort every single night and he plays hard. He’s still an exceptional athlete even at 32 yrs of age and is still capable of a triple-double almost every game. The biggest question is his shooting capabilities, especially his 3-point shooting which has been around 30% in his career. The Lakers desperately need shooting, and unfortunately Westbrook does not provide that. However, this move indicates that the Lakers are trying to get back to getting on fast breaks as well as taking the load off LeBron James for ball handling duties. During the 2019-2020 season, the Lakers were devastating on transition, and Westbrook can certainly provide that with his speed and tenacity going to the basket. Eventhough Schroder was more of a scoring point guard and had speed as well, the Lakers weren’t very good on transition this past season. Lakers are hoping that Westbrook can fix that issue.
Shooting is something the Lakers still need and they probably aren’t done adjusting the roster. Trading away Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope has certainly left a gap in that department. The Lakers are likely looking at options, but right now they believe they have a solid big three in Westbrook, James, and Davis. The real work begins now as they try to build the pieces around them. Is Westbrook the answer for the Lakers? Can he buy into Vogel’s system and work with James and Davis? That has yet to be seen and we have to wait and see how the roster comes about. One thing is for sure, Westbrook will bring some electricity every night to Staples Center and it could be another show out in Los Angeles.