The Los Angeles Lakers dominated headlines going into the NBA Draft on Thursday despite not holding a pick until 22 overall, but that was because they were the most aggressive team on the trade market. They were linked to Kings guard Buddy Hield for some time, but after a Hield deal looked to be on the way, suddenly the Wizards swooped in and engaged the Lakers in Russell Westbrook trade talks.
Talks continued into the start of the NBA Draft, as the two sides had a framework of players but had to figure out draft picks, but after the first two picks of the night were announced in Brooklyn, word broke from The Athletic’s Shams Charania that a deal was done and Westbrook was headed to L.A. along with two future second rounders, while Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in tonight’s draft were headed to Washington.
The Washington Wizards have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook, 2024 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and No. 22 tonight, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 30, 2021
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the deal on ESPN’s Draft night broadcast shortly after the Shams report, as it seems there will not be any additions to the deal as some Lakers fans had hoped.
It is the first blockbuster trade of what could be an offseason filled with them, as the Lakers get their coveted third start to go alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They will have plenty of work to do to fill out the roster alongside those three after trading three of the few players still on the roster to get Westbrook, and the focus from here on has to be on finding shooters as spacing will be the big point of conversation about the new Lakers Big 3.
For Washington, they get cap flexibility going forward with three smaller contracts that would be much more movable, if they want, or they could hold on to all three to build depth around Bradley Beal, who it has been reported is not in the mix to be traded currently. The Wizards could get involved in some sign-and-trade opportunities with some of players on the free agent market this summer or hold onto their newfound flexibility for the future.