UPDATE (8:15 p.m.): Russell Westbrook and a pair of future second-round picks are headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft were sent to the Washington Wizards, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
ORIGINAL STORY: Russell Westbrook apparently didn’t last long in Washington.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Thursday that Westbrook wanted out of the Wizards organization and was eyeing the Los Angeles Lakers as a destination. And minutes after that report, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said the two sides were “near a deal” that would bring Westbrook to Los Angeles in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 first-round pick.
Westbrook is slated to earn $44 million in the 2021-22 campaign, which is the penultimate year on the five-year, $206.8 million contract he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder three seasons ago. He has a player option in 2022 and enters free agency in 2023.
The Wizards late last season revived what was a disappointing campaign, but the lauded arrival of Westbrook from the Houston Rockets didn’t work out the way the front office likely envisioned it would once he was installed next to Bradley Beal, the longtime face of the franchise who reportedly isn’t going anywhere amid the major move.
The 32-year-old Westbrook finished with 22.2 points per game — his lowest since 2013-14 — but led the league in assists with 11.7. He also logged 11.5 rebounds.
While he didn’t provide the facelift Washington was hoping for, Westbrook is obviously a talented player. And even though the Lakers will have to basically gut their bench to get him in the reported deal, it’s clear Los Angeles views him as a piece that will help it get to the NBA Finals after falling short in 2021.