The Los Angeles Lakers completed their trade to officially acquire point guard Russell Westbrook and three future second-round draft picks from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and the draft rights to Isaiah Jackson.
As a part of a bigger five-team trade, Spencer Dinwiddie will be heading to Washington, which is why the Lakers are getting the third second-rounder.
The Lakers and Wizards agreed to this trade in principle on the day of the draft, but could not complete it until August 6 for a number of reasons. The biggest was Kuzma, whose approximately $3 million contract from the 2020-21 season became $13 for the 2021-22 season. His contract was required for salary matching purposes.
With this trade, Westbrook joins the Lakers and forms a big three with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. L.A. had made it known that they were in the market for a dynamic playmaker, and they found a perfect fit for that description.
“It takes a special mentality of competitiveness to take on the role of point guard for The Los Angeles Lakers,” said Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka. “We have seen some of the all-time greats master that role here, and now Russell Westbrook gets to come home and do just that. This is a very proud day for our franchise, and we are incredibly grateful. We welcome Russell and his family to Lakers Nation.”
Now, the Lakers must figure out how Westbrook, James, and Davis will work on the floor. Obviously, the three are great friends off the court, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of shooting and floor spacing. Free agent signings have helped to ease this worry, but it is still unclear how it will translate on the court.
Among the names the Lakers have brought in to play alongside this big three are Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Carmelo Anthony, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn. The Lakers are hopeful that there is enough shooting and wing defense to make up for the losses that came in the Westbrook trade and in free agency.
Lakers lose Alex Caruso to Bulls
While the Lakers’ moves in free agency can mostly be seen as positive, their biggest negative was letting Alex Caruso walk to the Chicago Bulls for the modest price of 4 years, $37 million. L.A. could have matched any offer, but chose not to in order to avoid paying significant luxury tax numbers.
It will be interesting to see how much the Lakers perimeter defense takes a hit with the loss of Caruso and whether or not it was worth saving the luxury tax money.
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