Tuesday, October 26 2021

The Los Angeles Lakers had considered many options over the summer for a third playmaker, and Russell Westbrook eventually became the guy.

Westbrook spent last season with the Washington Wizards and averaged 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per game.

He will replace Dennis Schroder‘s spot in the starting lineup, but the primary concern is if he can help space the floor alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

That was one of the concerns the Lakers weighed when finalizing the decision to acquire the former league MVP, and it’ll have to be worked out on the court as the season progresses.

So, how did the deal come together?

The Lakers were inching closer to a deal to acquire Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings until the situation reversed and Westbrook talks ignited.

In a report by Bill Oram, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, new details show the deal came to fruition, even after the Wizards didn’t want to trade Westbrook:

So by the morning of the NBA Draft on July 29, with seemingly no trade for Westbrook available, Rob Pelinka, the Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager, appeared to have no choice but to move on…

That day, a telltale moment occurred: Westbrook received a tip. Not only could the Lakers not break through with the Wizards, but also they were on the cusp of trading Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell — players whose salaries would be required to execute a Westbrook trade — to the Kings for Hield.

“That set Russ off,” one source said. “All he wanted, by any means, was to be a Laker.”

Once Westbrook found out about that, he talked to the Wizards’ owner to send him to L.A.:

Westbrook had been telling those around him for weeks that he was finally coming home, but now those dreams seemed to be slipping away. So shortly before noon on July 29, he asked his billionaire boss, Ted Leonsis, for a personal favor: Find a way for him to land with the Lakers. That passionate plea set off a chain of events that resulted in the Lakers assembling one of the most star-laden and veteran teams in league history.

“(Westbrook) took control of his situation,” one involved source said.

Before Westbrook did that, though, he talked to his star teammate Bradley Beal about the move and how both should ask to be traded. Beal supported Westbrook, though he himself didn’t want to go that route:

And before Westbrook resorted to calling Leonsis, he had tried to convince Beal in the weeks leading up to the draft that they should both ask out of Washington, according to sources. Short of Beal showing a desire to also request a trade, Westbrook was hopeful Beal would at least support his efforts to get to L.A. — which, sources said, Beal did.

Now the goal is for Westbrook to help James and Davis win Los Angeles’ 18th championship in franchise history.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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