Lakers Agree to Trade Russell Westbrook in a Three-Team Deal
The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to trade guard Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team deal, according to three people familiar with the trade who were not authorized to speak about it publicly.
As part of the exchange, the Lakers will receive Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell, whom they drafted No. 2 overall in 2015 then traded away after just two seasons.
The agreement was first reported by ESPN.
The deal will end Westbrook’s tumultuous, and brief, tenure with the Lakers. The Washington Wizards traded Westbrook to the Lakers before the 2021-22 season, giving the Lakers high hopes that he would be part of a so-called superteam with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. To acquire Westbrook, the Lakers traded multiple players who were crucial to their championship run in 2020. It didn’t pan out.
Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and the 2017 most valuable player, is versatile and athletic at his best, easily able to fill up box scores. But in Los Angeles, Westbrook struggled to adjust to coming off the bench and not being the primary ballhandler. That, along with his below-average perimeter shooting, sunk the chances of him fitting with James and Davis.
The Lakers (25-30) are out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, despite their championship aspirations. Westbrook averaged 16.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game off the bench for the Lakers this season.
The Westbrook trade will also send to the Jazz forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, center Damian Jones and a first-round pick in the 2027 draft. The Jazz will mark Westbrook’s fifth team in five years, an unusual level of movement for a former M.V.P. still relatively close to his prime.
The Jazz will send Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Lakers, and they will trade Mike Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to Minnesota.
Russell, 26, who had been with Minnesota since the 2019-20 season, has had an up-and-down career. The Lakers traded him to the Nets in 2017, before his third season. He earned an All-Star selection with the Nets in 2019 but was sent to Golden State that summer as part of a sign-and-trade deal for Kevin Durant. Only months into the 2019-20 season, Golden State traded him to the Timberwolves, where he played alongside his close friend Karl-Anthony Towns. The potential was high for yet another dynamic star pairing in the N.B.A.
But Minnesota, like the Lakers, has languished in the standings — battling for a playoff spot when the expectations were to be near the top of the West, especially after acquiring center Rudy Gobert, one of the best defensive players in the league, in a summer trade with Utah.
Even so, Russell averaged 17.9 points and 6.2 assists per game for Minnesota this season, one of the best of his career. Crucially for the Lakers, he will provide another shooter as they attempt to salvage their season: He is shooting 39.1 percent from deep this season. For his career, he’s at 36 percent from 3-point range.
The Lakers will add multiple role players as well. Beasley averaged 13.4 points per game for the Jazz this year and shot 35.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Vanderbilt averaged 8.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game on 55.6 percent shooting from the field, mostly off the bench.
Russell’s replacement in Minnesota would be Conley, who started 42 games at point guard for the surprisingly resilient Jazz this season. Conley, a 2021 All-Star, averaged a career-high 7.7 assists for the Jazz, but his scoring numbers have dipped to 10.7 points per game, his lowest output since his second season in the league. He is a more traditional point guard than Russell and may fit better next to Anthony Edwards, the third-year guard who has emerged as a franchise player for the Timberwolves.