The biggest move made by the Los Angeles Lakers, and perhaps any team in the NBA, this offseason was the massive trade that brought Russell Westbrook home to L.A. The Lakers sent out Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the deal, which came as a surprise to many, including those involved in the trade, as a deal to acquire Buddy Hield from Sacramento was already in place.
The very early returns have been positive for the Wizards, who have gotten off to a 2-1 start, and for Kuzma himself. The forward is averaging 14.3 points and 13 rebounds early on for Washington, while Harrell has also looked much more like himself in his new role in Washington.
Overall, the Wizards wound up with five new players after trading away Westbrook and Kuzma believes they had to make a deal like that when it was presented to them, as he discussed in an interview with Chase Hughes of NBC Sports:
“I mean, you gotta do that trade 10 out of 10 times. If you have an opportunity to get five good basketball players for one, it makes sense. Granted, [Westbrook is] obviously a Hall of Fame player and everything. He’s an unbelievable player, don’t take that wrong,” Kuzma said.
“But especially for a team like Washington, if you look at the track record from the past couple of years, it hasn’t necessarily been enough ballplayers here… It’s smart, you have to do it if you’re a GM.”
No one would ever argue that Westbrook isn’t the best singular player in that trade, but sometimes getting multiple good players is better than having one excellent one, which is Kuzma’s point. For a team trying to build like the Wizards, they felt that all of those players would ultimately be better for them, while the Lakers are always looking to add another superstar.
Westbrook hasn’t had the greatest start with the Lakers so far, but his talent is undeniable and it is always a process to integrate someone like him into your systems. The Wizards are still trying to set their foundation and Kuzma could be part of that, but the Lakers are trying to win a championship and they feel Westbrook will be a big factor in that.
Westbrook says he and Lakers teammates still getting used to each other
Adding a player like Westbrook to the fold was always going to be difficult to integrate for the Lakers. The superstar has to change his style of play as do his teammates in adjusting to playing with him and there are a lot of new faces on this team. Westbrook understands this and admits that everyone is still figuring each other out and it will be a process overall.
“We’re all figuring each other out,” Westbrook said. “Guys are figuring out how to run with me and play a little faster, and I’m figuring out how to do other things like moving off the ball and doing things that I’ve kind of got to figure out. We’re all adjusting to one another and that’s a process.”
“It’s not going to happen in the first week of the season and we understand that and I’m OK with the struggle of figuring it out and making sure that we’re putting ourselves in a position to do the right things so that ultimately at the end of the year, we can be playing our best basketball.”
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