After months and months of speculation the Los Angeles Lakers finally traded Russell Westbrook. After rumors of a trade being in the advanced discussion phase, it was made official. The Lakers worked out a three-team trade with the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves to get Westbrook out of town.
The Lakers are acquiring D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley in the trade. Minnesota is receiving Mike Conley, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a 2024 second-round pick from the Lakers (less favorable of Memphis and Washington) and two future second-round picks from the Utah Jazz.
Utah is receiving Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 first-round pick. The kicker? The pick in 2027 is top-four protected, so if things really go south for the Lakers they will still have their own first-round pick.
All things considered, the Lakers made out quite well in this trade. They got to add protections to the first-round pick and added two young role players to essentially replace JTA and Jones. The switch from Russell Westbrook to D’Angelo Russell is a bit overhyped right now, but it is still an improvement.
The Lakers are still not true contenders after the massive Russell Westbrook trade.
While everyone is going to be drinking the Lakers’ Kool-Aid after this trade, it is important to be realistic about the situation. This was probably the best they could have gotten for Westbrook, especially considering they only had to trade one of the first-round picks (with it being top-four protected).
The trade might be a solid one for the Lakers but it does not instantly shoot them into contention. You can win a trade and still not be one of the six best teams in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles is still going to need more help. While he is an upgrade and helps with the floor spacing, Russell still has some of the same issues that Westbrook did. He is a ball-dominant guard who does not like to defend. He is not necessarily a great fit.
Beasley and Vanderbilt are two improvements in the rotation but both have their flaws. Beasley can shoot but is another undersized guard who can’t really defend. Vanderbilt is exceptional on the defensive end, but cannot space the floor at all and is a zero on the offensive end.
If this is the final version of the team then it will be a better team but not a true contender. But it is important that we grade these things as a complete picture, not just one move.
The Los Angeles Lakers have officially traded Russell Westbrook and the first potential suitor for him on the buyout market is hilarious for Lakers fans.
If Rob Pelinka has another move up his sleeve then this could be the start of building out a more well-rounded roster that can contend for a title. Fans should not be complacent and just accept this trade. There is more work to be done.