Earlier Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harrell would opt for the final year of his $ 9.7 million contract. The Lakers needed Harrell to commit for salary purposes in a possible trade. Westbrook is set to make over $ 44 million next season, so every penny counts towards achieving his figure. Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope, and Harrell combine to win nearly $ 36 million.
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The Wizards are reportedly still intending to keep Bradley Beal, Wojnarowski selon. The idea for them would be to create future flexibility to rearrange the list around it. Beal can become a free agent in the next offseason.
On paper, Westbrook is an odd fit in Los Angeles. The Lakers were 24th in 3-point attempts and 21st in 3-point percentage last season. Westbrook is a notoriously poor 3-point shooter. He’s only made 30.5% of his attempts in his career, further limiting the spacing for LeBron James and Anthony Davis as they head for the basket. This was already a problem for the past two seasons.
But the Lakers were desperate for a secondary playmaker to help ease the pressure of ball handling on James. Westbrook has led the NBA in assists for three of the past four seasons. He might not be a shooter, but he’s a dynamic goalscorer who will make the Lakers even more lethal in transition and on the glass. This makes him a flawed and risky addition, but with a lot of advantages.
Westbrook is from Los Angeles. He played collegially at UCLA. The Lakers would be his fourth team in the past four seasons, but they are probably his best chance at winning a championship. With this in mind, let’s note this profession.
The Lakers receive:
- Second round pick in 2024
- Second round pick in 2028
Lakers trade rank: C
If the Lakers got the MVP version of Westbrook four seasons ago, this trade might make more sense. Even during the 2019-20 season as a member of the Rockets, he attempted 10.5 shots per game in the restricted area. He fell to just five per game last season. He went from 4.8 quick braking points per game as the Rocket to 2.7 last season in Washington. This suggests one of two things, neither of which are particularly favorable to the Lakers: either Westbrook’s athleticism has declined a bit with age, or he needs truly optimal spacing to thrive at this point in time. his career.
The truth is a bit of both, and that doesn’t bode well for a Los Angeles team that doesn’t have optimal spacing to put Westbrook or a time machine to age their declining body. The version of Westbrook the Lakers are getting is the one who took more than six mid-distance shots per game last season and barely managed 38%. These are the exact types of punches that teams with LeBron James tend to avoid. He is perhaps the greatest 3 point creator for his teammates in NBA history. This generally created a symbiotic relationship between James and his actors: he creates 3-point points for them and, in turn, they pull the defenders out of the picture and away from him.
Westbrook won’t do that. The Lakers know this well. When they played the Rockets in the 2020 playoffs, they won by essentially ignoring Westbrook off the ball. They often passed James Harden knowing that Westbrook, a career 30.5% 3-point shooter, couldn’t punish them from behind the arc. Teams will do the same to them in an attempt to slow James or Davis behind the arc. This is the fundamental flaw in this trade. Everything the Lakers do offensively should be built around improving James and Davis. At best, Westbrook handling the ball means James and Davis aren’t. At worst? He actively hinders them by his inability to shoot at 3 points.
These are the negatives, and there are many, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some theoretical advantages here. The Lakers placed first in the NBA in points per 100 possessions added in transition during their championship season in 2020. They fell to 19th place last season. Injuries were part of it, but the Lakers clearly weren’t as strong in transition, even at full strength. Even a declining Westbrook is a substantial improvement in this regard. Houston moved from 19th to ninth in quick break points per game after adding Westbrook. The Lakers will be deadly when they run. They will also be fatal on glass. Westbrook’s 11.5 rebounds per game last season even surpass Davis in his two seasons with the Lakers.
More importantly, the move is an acknowledgment of James’ mortality. He is 36 years old. The Lakers know they can’t ask him to run the full offense for 82 games and 20-25 playoff games next season. Their offense fell off a cliff when he went to the bench since signing in 2018. The Lakers are hoping Westbrook can fix this and give James more rest during games and possibly, more nights. leave as a whole. Whether or not this materializes is debatable. Houston and Washington both struggled when Westbrook played without Harden and Beal, respectively. But neither of those teams were able to pair him with Davis in those minutes. They are the most talented team Westbrook has ever played for. If one group is able to sand some of the rougher edges in their game, it’s the one that won a championship two years ago without it.
Davis will ultimately be the key to the success or failure of this movement. He has to play at the Westbrook center to be viable in Los Angeles. The Lakers just can’t muster enough shots to justify the move any other way. He made it in the playoffs, but the regular season is a different story. Expect the Lakers to make the transition offensively, but struggle in the half court like they did in 2020. They won the championship that season. They hope they can count on the same formula with Westbrook next year.
Wizard Commercial Level: B +
There are two scenarios we need to consider when it comes to Washington’s future. The least likely outcome is that Bradley Beal will stay in Washington for the long haul. Through this lens, the Wizards have likely taken a slight short-term decline. Westbrook averaged 22.2 points per game and he created an extra 30.1 points per game from assists. That’s 52.3 points that are suddenly lost every night, and it’s unclear who on this list can replace them. Kuzma can boost his scoring volume in a bigger role, and Caldwell-Pope gives them much-needed perimeter defense, but without other moves Beal just doesn’t have enough offensive help right now. .
It would scare most teams trying to re-sign a player of Beal’s caliber. Downgrading the year before he becomes a free agent doesn’t send a good message to a player who apparently wants to win. Corn Ramona Shelburne d’ESPN reported that Beal and Westbrook were in constant communication during the offseason and that Beal had supported him in his search for a better situation for himself. All reports now indicate that Beal is staying in Washington for the time being. The Wizards wouldn’t have made the move without Beal’s approval. If they got it, they created significant flexibility to improve around him down the line.
Harrell’s contract expires after next season. Caldwell-Pope has less than $ 5 million guaranteed after next season. With the demise of Westbrook’s gargantuan salary, even with Kuzma in the fold, the Wizards could create as much as $ 30 million in extra space the next offseason to try to complete Beal. What they’ll do with that flexibility remains to be seen, but remember, even with Westbrook, the Wizards barely made the playoffs. They didn’t have a list worth keeping together. Now they have the freedom to build a better one. The addition of an additional first-round pick, which would have been redirected to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Aaron Holiday, is the icing on the cake.
But really, we have to recognize that Beal probably won’t be around for the long haul. If so, taking the remaining $ 91 million from Westbrook’s contract is a boon on many levels. This obviously gives them more financial flexibility to reshape the roster, but it also allows them to tank properly if that’s the route they want to go. Westbrook may limit the cap on a playoff offense, but in the regular season, he raises the floor high enough to keep a team off the top of the lottery. His teams tend not to lose a lot of regular season games.
If Washington is to seek more of a win-now package for Beal, Westbrook’s absence also makes it easier for them to ignore adjustment concerns. Take Ben Simmons, for example. The Wizards couldn’t have rebuilt themselves around him with Westbrook in place as neither of them can shoot 3s. With Westbrook gone, Philadelphia is suddenly a viable suitor. At the very least, it creates leverage that Washington can use against other teams.
As accomplished as Westbrook is, nothing that happened in Washington last season suggested the Wizards had a lasting contender. They would only have gotten worse as Westbrook continued to age. Washington managed to hit the eject button and collect some good assets in the process. Whichever direction they go, their future looks brighter than it was last season.