After weeks of anticipation, the Los Angeles Lakers officially announced their acquisition of Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell.
Reports consistently mentioned the Lakers looking for a dynamic playmaker to add next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and Westbrook more than fits the bill with his ability to draw in defenses with his assaults to the rim and find teammates all over the floor. Westbrook should be able to alleviate the playmaking burden off James’ shoulders and allow the 36-year-old to play more off the ball.
Although having Westbrook is a luxury for the NBA’s glamor franchise, it did come at a fairly steep price as the Lakers had to part ways with three important rotation pieces from the 2020-21 roster. Caldwell-Pope, in particular, will be missed because he was the team’s leading 3-point shooter by percentage as well as one of their better perimeter defenders.
After the trade was announced, Caldwell-Pope posted a good bye to the Laker organization and the fans on his Instagram account:
Caldwell-Pope’s arrival to Los Angeles was a surprise after he could not come to terms on a long-term deal with the Detroit Pistons. The shooting guard helped provide stabilization at the two-guard spot and gave the team a legitimate outside threat to help space the floor and open up driving lanes for the guards and wings.
Although the 28-year-old endured some rough stretches as a member of the Lakers, he turned things around during the 2020 NBA playoffs when he caught fire from beyond the arc and made clutch shots down the stretches of several games. He was arguably the team’s third-best player during their title run, and for that, he was awarded a three-year, $39 million deal.
Caldwell-Pope will be missed with the Purple and Gold but should be able to contribute to a Wizards team that will be competing for one of the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spots. It is sad to see someone like Caldwell-Pope go, but the fans will surely be cheering for him in Washington.
Alex Caruso thanks Lakers fans and organization
Aside from Caldwell-Pope, the Lakers also lost Alex Caruso to the Chicago Bulls in free agency. Despite him taking a more lucrative offer in Chicago, Caruso posted a heartfelt farewell to the Lakers fans and the organization.
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