It has been clear since their season ended that the Los Angeles Lakers were determined to make some moves in the offseason to increase their chances at winning an NBA Championship in 2022. Numerous names were mentioned as possibilities, and the idea of the Lakers adding a veteran point guard has been a them that has gained traction with Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, and Russell Westbrook all being brought up.
Westbrook, as a Southern California product who attended UCLA, may provide the highest ceiling of any of those options, despite his faults. Westbrook’s shooting issues are well known, but as a playmaker and competitor there are very few on his level.
Once Montrezl Harrell opted-in to the second year of his contract it seemed like it was a foregone conclusion before a deal for someone was reached, and it looks like that has finally happened as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell are reportedly headed to Sacramento according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The Washington Wizards have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook, 2024 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and No. 22 tonight, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
The Lakers wanted to make a splash this summer and they have done just that with this move. Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the fourth time in five seasons last year and his competitiveness and intensity have been matched by very few in the history of the league.
This will bring some questions about spacing for the Lakers now as Westbrook is an even less reliable shooter than LeBron James or Anthony Davis. He is capable however, of making up for it in other ways, especially if he focuses on defense where he can really wreak havoc on the opposition.
The Lakers do give up a lot in order to bring Westbrook in however as both Caldwell-Pope and Kuzma were reliable and switchable wings. Harrell was also very solid when given consistent minutes, but perhaps the Lakers feel that a third star will ultimately raise their ceiling to the desired championship level.
Whether this will ultimately work out for the Lakers will be seen, but they have surely shifted the landscape of the NBA once again and will be the team to watch heading into the season.