Although the Los Angeles Lakers did not make a pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, they still made a splash during the day when news broke they acquired Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster deal with the Washington Wizards.
For several days it looked like the Lakers were going to land Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings, but they quickly pivoted when Westbrook reportedly stated his desire to come home to Los Angeles. All offseason it was reported that the Lakers were looking to add a difference-making playmaker next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so they jumped at the chance to nab Westbrook when the opportunity presented itself.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard previously seemed content entering the 2021-22 season with Westbrook on the roster, but explained how the trade went down, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports:
“That was a very, very unusual circumstance where the day before the draft we were kind of spitballing some ideas and getting some input. I had a heart-to-heart with Russell and it was important to him that I knew and the Wizards knew he wants to play here,” Sheppard said.
“If there was ever an opportunity with the Lakers, that would be the one place. I look at his Hall of Fame career and all he did for us, certainly, for me, I will try to help a guy as long as it helps the Wizards. In this case, we could do a deal and it did help the Wizards.”
Sheppard revealed that making a deal that benefitted every party was too good to pass up and wished Westbrook well on his new team:
“If that deal didn’t go through, Russ would still be playing for us and we would all be happy. That opportunity presented itself and it was a great deal for both sides and it made a lot of sense for both of us. I wish him the very best,” Sheppard said.
During Westbrook’s introductory presser with L.A., he admitted he was excited to be back home so it was good on Sheppard to accommodate the guard and make sure he ended up somewhere he would be happy. Westbrook gets a chance to compete for a championship while the Wizards have the flexibility they need to build around Beal.
Vogel outlines how Westbrook will work alongside James & Davis
Westbrook joins a star tandem of James and Davis and head coach Frank Vogel explained how the trio can work together during the upcoming season.
“I think anytime you have three great players like this there is an element of sacrifice required and we’ve all talked about that and are all-in on that,” Vogel said. “But these three guys can do it all and what I love about our group, Bron, AD and Russ, is they’re all make-the-right-play players, you know what I mean. It’s not just about scoring or being a one-dimensional player. They can all do it all, so I’m most excited about seeing what the three of them on the court at the same time looks like.
“I think we’re gonna be an extremely dynamic fast-breaking team and one that they can play off of all three guys in many different ways. So I think with the speed, athleticism of those guys, plus the complementary parts we put together, the shooters and the defenders, I think we got a real chance this year to do something special and it’s on us now to put in the work and to get these type of talented guys to buy in and put in the work so we can achieve something special.”
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