The Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, and Minnesota Timberwolves are all swapping point guards and more in a three-team trade. The Lakers will acquire D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt from the Timberwolves. Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and a lightly protected 2027 Lakers first-round pick is now Utah’s. The Jazz are sending Mike Conley Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to Minnesota, which will also receive draft picks.
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The move gives the Lakers hope at a playoff run. They add a starting PG, 3-point shooting, and depth on the bench. They are trying to right the wrong of the Westbrook trade. The west is crowded from the middle to the end of the conference. It adds some type of excitement to the year.
The deal ends Westbrook’s rocky year and a half-tenure with the Lakers, which never came close to recovering. The Lakers traded a haul of role players to the Wizards. Since then, they have gone 58-79 in the regular season. They sit two games out of the play. LA is in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight year.
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The Lakers first had plans to trade Kyle Kuza to the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield. Heild is one of the best long-range shooters in the league. He seemed like the perfect fit for James’s style of play. Westbrook’s ball-dominant style proved to be an awful stylistic fit in an offense that usually wants James controlling the floor. Further friction saw Lakers head coach Frank Vogel fired. New head coach Darvin Ham quickly moved Westbrook into a bench role, where he has at least received less scrutiny. To Westbrooks’s credit, he is a sixth man of the year candidate.
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Rumors of a potential trade swirled last year, but a contract of $44 million salary in 2021-22 and a $47 million player option in 2022-23 was too high for numerous teams. The Lakers’ lack of assets made the idea a hard sell. The Lakers refused to part way with their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks. They hang on to 2029 for any future deals. The only question was what they would get back, and the answer turned out to be a familiar face.