The Los Angeles Lakers knew after their first-round playoff elimination last season that they wanted to make a major move for another star. That move ultimately became the deal for superstar point guard Russell Westbrook, but as usual, the front office explored multiple options all offseason.
Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal are among the stars that have long been rumored as potentially being dealt at some point and any time there is a big name out there, the Lakers are sure to be mentioned as a possibility. In this case, the Lakers looked at those names as well before eventually focusing on Westbrook.
According to Shams Charania, Bill Oram and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers explored the idea of trading for Lillard, Beal and Damian Lillard before zeroing in on Westbrook this offseason:
In the two months that followed their first-round playoff flop against Phoenix, when Davis’ groin injury left them pulling up lame, the Lakers explored the prospect of trading for such stars as Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook. The process unfolded well beyond the team’s front office’s search, with James setting up a war room of his own at his Brentwood estate for some in-person player meetings while leading remote communications in other conversations.
The main reason the Lakers ended up pursuing Westbrook is because of his playmaking ability:
Those talks and others led the Lakers to the conclusion that the truculent Westbrook was the best solution on the board. A former league MVP, he checked the superstar box, and as a dynamic playmaker he would help ease the burden on James. It wasn’t hard to sell Westbrook on the vision. A former UCLA star who had grown up celebrating Lakers championships at the parades on Figueroa Street, Westbrook was all in.
Very few would argue that Westbrook is at the level of Lillard or Beal, though he is still an outstanding player. That being said both Beal and Lillard are not trying to be moved at this point and with LeBron James being so involved in the process, it is likely that they were able to realize exactly that.
Westbrook remains someone who can help the Lakers in a big way and his addition is expected to push the team back in championship contention. The Lakers expect to win and this offseason, they believe, has put them in position to do just that.
Lakers starting lineup expected to feature Anthony Davis at center
Westbrook will obviously be a part of the starting lineup along with James and Anthony Davis, but the major question was whether Davis would feature at power forward or center. Apparently it is looking like Davis will most likely be starting at center with Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington potentially filling out the lineup and Talen Horton-Tucker also expected to compete for a starting job.
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