Massive Trade Involving Lakers, Jazz, and Timberwolves Sends Westbrook to Utah and Russell to LA
According to reports, a massive trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz will be completed by Thursday’s deadline.
What follows is ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s breakdown of the transaction:
- D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarrett Vanderbilt have all been traded to the Lakers.
- To the Jazz go, Russell Westbrook, Juan Tocci-Anderson, Damian Jones, and a protected first-round pick from the 2027 draft by the Lakers.
- The Jazz sends the Timberwolves their second-round picks in 2025 and 2026, while the Lakers send the Timberwolves Mike Conley, Nickolas Alexander-Walker, and whichever of Washington and Memphis’ 2024 second-round picks is lower.
On Wednesday, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report reported that the Jazz would “likely” buy out Westbrook if the trade went through. Haynes claims that the Los Angeles Clippers and the Chicago Bulls would both like to sign the former MVP if that were to happen.
Westbrook, now 34 years old, spent his first 11 professional seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder before being traded four times between 2009 and 2019.
Despite months of trade rumors suggesting otherwise, Westbrook stayed in Los Angeles and played out his $47.1 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Even though he played in 78 games for the Lakers, he only managed to average 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per contest. His 1.7 win shares and 15.0 player efficiency rating were both career lows, according to Basketball Reference.
While his numbers have continued to drop in 2022–23, his move to the Lakers bench has provided a boost. The guard has played in 52 games, averaging 15.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.2 boards per contest.
His 41.7 field goal percentage is among the worst of his career.
Wojnarowski noted that Westbrook “lingered on the playing floor after getting subbed out” in the second quarter of Tuesday’s 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, leading to a “heated verbal exchange” between Westbrook and head coach Darvin Ham.
Despite the team’s struggles, the Lakers were able to find a trade partner, and they’ll be hoping that this latest move helps them in the season’s final two months.
To acquire Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in 2021, the Lakers sent Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and a 2022 first-round pick. The Lakers’ plan all along was to form a super team around Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, a trio that had a combined 34 All-Star nods coming into this season.
However, the team could not live up to its potential due to injuries and inconsistent play, finishing with a 33-49 record and missing the playoffs. Although he was one of the few players to avoid damage, Westbrook’s ineffectiveness and defensive flaws frustrated Thunder fans.
The Lakers, meanwhile, will be receiving a well-known player in exchange.
Russell, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, played his first two seasons in the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers. His first season in purple and gold saw him post averages of 14.3 points and 4.0 assists.
The Los Angeles Lakers ultimately dealt him and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in June 2017 for Brook Lopez and the rights to Kyle Kuzma.
During the 2018–19 season, he was an All-Star while playing for Brooklyn. Since then, he has played for the Warriors and the Timberwolves.
The 26-year-old started all 54 games for Minnesota, averaging 17.9 points and 6.2 assists per game.
The Lakers should get some much-needed scoring from him and Beasley. Beasley has connected 35.1 percent of his long balls, while Russell has hit 39.1 percent. With the extra space created by James and Davis on the court, those numbers can rise.
His versatility as a defender should help relieve some of the load on the team’s primary playmakers, and Vanderbilt should contribute there.
Conley, an All-Star in 2020-21, will join the Timberwolves.
This season, Conley averaged 10.7 points and 7.4 assists per game for Utah.
The NBA Updates reported trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz is a significant move that will impact all three teams. Westbrook’s move to the Jazz and Conley’s trade to the Timberwolves could bring much-needed improvements to both teams.
Meanwhile, the Lakers hope to address some of their struggles by acquiring Russell and Beasley. Although Westbrook’s performance has been inconsistent this season, he could still provide a boost for the Lakers off the bench. It will be interesting to see how these moves play out and how they impact the remainder of the season for these teams.