When rumors began floating about the Los Angeles Lakers potentially trading for Russell Westbrook, it came as a big surprise to everyone. The main reason for this shock was because it was basically believed to be a done deal that the team would be making a trade for Sacramento Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield.
The Lakers’ interest in Hield made a ton of sense as he is one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA today. He is a career 40.6% 3-point shooter who has yet to shoot below 39% from deep in each of his five seasons in the league. Playing next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis will always yield open shots and having someone with Hield’s skills would be the perfect fit.
But the team would decide to go with the less natural but more dynamic fit in Westbrook and according to Shams Charania, Bill Oram and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers decision to bail on the deal left the Kings extremely angry:
Once Westbrook persuaded the Wizards to engage with L.A., the Lakers made a choice to back off of the Hield option, too. Even if Hield was a more natural fit for their structure, the Lakers believed Westbrook made them a more dangerous team in the postseason.
It was, in essence, the decision between a player they believed could be the difference-maker in a 16-game title run vs. one whose talents had only been utilized in the regular season.
The decision left Sacramento management steaming, sources said. The Kings had no idea they were even competing with a Westbrook deal, and they weren’t the only ones stunned by the reversal.
The postseason is what the Lakers are ultimately about so if they felt that Westbrook would make them better then it’s no surprise that’s the move they would go with. Westbrook is someone who is capable of taking over games and is someone who can help ease the playmaking burden off James, which Hield can’t do.
Time will tell whether the franchise made the right decision as even their own players believed the Kings deal was happening. It’s understandable why the Kings would be angry with the Lakers’ decision as a player they thought was gone is still on the team with training camp set to begin. But the Lakers did what they felt was best for them and the Kings’ feelings are completely secondary.
Vogel says Lakers motivation to win championship remains unchanged
Regardless of who the Lakers brought in this summer, the end goal of bringing home another Larry O’Brien trophy would always remain the same. Head coach Frank Vogel made it clear that the team’s motivation this season is the same as it was in previous years.
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