3. The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t HAVE to make this risky of a trade
Sometimes an NBA team is in a situation where they have to throw a hail mary and hope something works. They very rarely do work, but time and time again we will see a team that is at the end of their perceived title window and says screw it, let’s make a bold move and hope it works.
An example of this actually working is the Kawhi Leonard trade with the Toronto Raptors. That was an extremely risky move to trade for one year of Kawhi but the Raptors had no real other way to win a title. They weren’t going to win with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry and they weren’t going to sign another star.
This was not the case with the Los Angeles Lakers. They did not have to take a risk. The team was bounced in the first round of the playoffs last year because of injuries and somehow Rob Pelinka convinced himself that he needed to trade for Westbrook.
In reality, Anthony Davis and LeBron James are still the hardest twosomes to beat in the NBA when they are both healthy and playing at their best. The Lakers did not need a “third star” they just needed a supporting cast.
There were so many other things the Lakers could have done. They could have kept the core and made small MLE signings and some of the minimum guys they signed this year (Malik Monk). They could have made several smaller trades to improve the roster as a whole. They could have packaged Harrell and Kuzma for Buddy Hield, kept Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and been able to afford re-signing Alex Caruso.
There were so many other routes the Los Angeles Lakers could have taken and they managed to take the worst route possible. The Lakers were a legitimate title contender and one trade turned them from a team that could have won the West the next two years to a team that might not win a playoff series in the next two years.
I am confident in saying that it cost the team that much, making the Russell Westbrook trade the worst in franchise history. Find a trade that has cost them more.