O’Connor: Westbrook trade was best-case scenario for Lakers
Since January of last season, the Los Angeles Lakers had looked to trade Russell Westbrook, and the offers they received were mostly underwhelming.
There was one offer last winter that would’ve brought them John Wall from the Houston Rockets for Westbrook and their 2027 first-round draft pick. Needless to say, it’s clear that would’ve been a disastrous trade.
More recently, the team had chances to swap him for the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, as well as for Kyrie Irving. The Lakers were never too interested in the former offer, and they made a run at Irving, only to find the Nets were asking for the sun and the moon in addition to Westbrook.
For a long time, the thinking was that the Lakers simply couldn’t get much in return for the former league MVP. He was perceived to have no value on the trade market.
In the end, Westbrook was sent to the Utah Jazz in a deal that brought L.A. D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, all of whom filled glaring needs.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor and Chris Vernon were amazed the Lakers got so much in return for the beleaguered guard, and O’Connor even said it represented a best-case scenario.
Via Sports Illustrated:
“My first reaction to this is I cannot believe the Lakers did this good on a Westbrook deal, honestly,” Vernon said. “I think that is (an) amazing return, considering the circumstances.”
“It’s absolutely incredible, Chris,” O’Connor agreed. “If you factor in the Rui Hachimura deal, and today (the day of the podcast recording) they get Mo Bamba, my guy, from the Magic. … They essentially gave up one first-round pick, protected top-four like you said in 2027, and one second-round pick, to go from Russell Westbrook to D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley to Malik Beasley, Juan Toscano-Anderson to Rui Hachimura, Damian Jones to Jarred Vanderbilt, and Thomas Bryant to Mo Bamba. Those are upgrades across the board for the Lakers. They now have better shooting, better defensive versatility, better playmaking, better fits next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James, better lineup flexibility.”
“We could not have predicted them to do this well, after everything this whole year — whiffing on (Myles) Turner and (Buddy) Hield, not getting Kyrie Irving — I think they ended up with what could go down as the best-case scenario, giving up what they did for this return.”
The current Lakers roster is fairly well-balanced, deep, young and athletic, and its players simply complement each other better than the players they had earlier this season, let alone last season.
It’s way too early to call the team a championship contender, especially since it will take some time for this new roster to gel together, but it has looked considerably better and more potent at both ends of the floor since its new players have debuted.
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