The first super trade of 2021 is here. The Los Angeles Lakers have picked up former MVP and All-Star Russell Westbrook from Washington Wizards.
The Lakers, one of the most valuable NBA teams, had a horrendous 2021 playoffs compared to their standards and exited the title fight early on. Of course, it should be noted that both LeBron James and Anthony Davis missed a long period right before the playoffs.
Going back to the trade itself, LA sent Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd draft pick for 2021. In return, aside from the point guard Russell Westbrook, the Wizards sent the 2024 and 2028 second-round picks.
So what are the Lakers getting, and how does the team look for next season?
Russell Westbrook spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Oklahoma Thunder, famously playing with James Harden and Kevin Durant in the trio’s early careers. In 2019, he went to Houston, and last year, Westbrook went to Washington.
The point guard averaged a triple-double with the Wizards, his fourth triple-double season in the last five years. He also took the team to the playoffs, where they lost to Philadelphia in five games. Westbrook also passed Oscar Robinson for most career triple-doubles.
The LA Lakers now have a super trio. Of course, first is LeBron James, holder of many records. Then there is Anthony Davis, and now, Russell Westbrook. This team is one of the biggest contenders for the title next year.
Westbrook also brings a $91 million contract — $44.2 million next season and $47 million the following year. That leaves less space for significant additions, and there are only five players signed on contracts. Some veteran or younger help might be required.
One area that needs strengthening is three-point shooting. The Lakers were 21st in the league last season, with 35.4%. Westbrook averages 30.5%. JJ Reddick (41.5%) and Wayne Ellington (38.2%) are veteran players that can help.
Another exciting veteran player to consider is Carmelo Anthony. He and James are long-time friends and were drafted in the same year. Anthony averaged 13.4 ppg and 40.9% from the three-point range.
In the end, the Lakers will depend on getting serious help from backup players to push for the title. They can become the next super team to win multiple championships or a failure.
One thing is for sure. From the millions of people watching sports, there will be many new Lakers fans.