After a lot of speculation and rumors swirling on Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers made the decision to pull off a massive three-team trade. D’Angelo Russell and Russell Westbrook were the primary players to get swapped, with the one-time NBA MVP being sent to the Utah Jazz.
The Lakers have since made the three-team deal official, which puts Russell back in purple and gold for the first time since 2020. Los Angeles traded Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft that year, which turned out to be Kyle Kuzma.
The three-team deal involves the Lakers, Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves. Utah has been actively looking to stockpile picks and received one of Los Angeles’ first-round picks in the deal while sending Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley to the Lakers along with Russell.
Minnesota reportedly acquired Mike Conley Jr. and Nickiel Alexander-Walker in the deal as well as draft picks. The Lakers will also send the Jazz compensation in the form of Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and their 2027 first-round draft pick, which is top-four protected.
“We are thrilled to add D’Angelo, Malik and Jarred to our organization and are confident their talents will boost our ability to finish the season strongly,” said Pelinka. “In this trade, we’ve added switchable wing defending, perimeter shooting and rebounding depth. We welcome D’Angelo back to the Lakers family and look forward to him donning the purple and gold in front of our passionate fan base once again. We certainly want to thank Russell, Juan and Damian for their time here in Los Angeles and wish them and their families nothing but success moving forward.”
This is a massive deal with a lot of moving parts. Although losing Westbrook is a blow to the team’s bench and star power, the Lakers arguably improve drastically in the shooting department with the addition of Russell and Beasley, who are shooting about 36% or better from beyond the arc this season. In addition, Vanderbilt will bring a presence in the paint and on the glass that the team sorely needs to complement Anthony Davis, as he’s averaging 7.9 rebounds per game.
Obviously, only time will tell if this move is a step in the right direction for the Lakers. There’s no doubt that this will make Los Angeles a more well-rounded team moving forward, but whether it’s enough to compete or to even be a force come playoff time remains to be seen.
Another major question is whether James signed off on the deal or even approved the move. Unlike in recent weeks, James hasn’t reacted to the move on Twitter as we’ve grown accustomed to, with no telling if he’s a fan of what has transpired.
On Thursday night, the Lakers will get back to work when they face the Milwaukee Bucks at Crypto.com Arena. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful the team’s new additions will be available to play in this game, meaning the squad will likely be shorthanded due to Westbrook’s absence.
Not that the trade is official, Russell will go back to wearing his old No. 1 that he wore in his first stint with the Lakers. Beasley will wear No. 5 while Vanderbilt will wear No. 2.
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