The Los Angeles Lakers finally executed a trade, sending Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Patrick Beverley.
Beverley gives the Lakers a rugged defender and underrated outside shooter and playmaker, but it also suggests that the team has plans to move off Russell Westbrook finally. Westbrook and Beverley have a history together as they’ve had problems on and off the court, so it doesn’t seem wise to have them both on the roster when the 2022-23 season begins.
The prevailing thought is Los Angeles will eventually find a deal to offload Westbrook as some executives believe they have three obvious trade partners. In an appearance on “Lakers Talk with Allen Sliwa,” ESPN insider Brian Windhorst suggested that they’d make a trade by the NBA trade deadline, as transcribed by Eric Eulau of Sports Illustrated:
“My guess is, by February, the Lakers will have made a significant trade. I don’t know who it will be for. I just don’t know for sure. Just because the Nets may have a certain position today, doesn’t mean they’ll feel that way in six weeks. Doesn’t mean they’ll feel that way in three months.”
However, Windhorst added that the Lakers aren’t rushing to make a trade for the sake of getting rid of Westbrook and are instead still focused on improving the roster as much as possible:
“The Lakers may just have to remain patient. I think, the message the Lakers have sent is that they’re willing to pay to upgrade the roster but they do not want to pay to just trade off Russell Westbrook. Their mission is not to just trade Russ. They want to pay to significantly improve their team.”
This stance contradicts the idea that a major move is imminent, though it’s a wise decision. With limited assets to execute moves, L.A. needs to be sure that the players coming back in a potential Westbrook trade will propel them to the top of the league.
As of now, it’s best to assume Westbrook will remain a Laker to begin training camp though things can change quickly if another team becomes amenable to acquiring the embattled guard.
LeBron James can’t wait to see Russell Westbrook go off
Westbrook’s fit next to LeBron James is far from ideal, giving the Lakers more motivation to trade the point guard. However, James recently tweeted out his support of Westbrook, saying he can’t wait to see him go off this season.