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Revisiting the 2021 trade that sent Russell Westbrook from the Wizards to the Lakers

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“The situation has understandably resulted in more questions, but it’s certainly intriguing.”

Those were the words I used on July 29, 2021, when reacting to the news that Russell Westbrook would be traded to the Lakers in a blockbuster deal. Nearly a year and a half has passed, and the situation somehow has produced even more questions.

At the time, Westbrook was coming off an impressive run to end his lone season with the Wizards, while the Lakers were coming off a disappointing title defense. Bringing the former MVP to his hometown team was the influx of talent LA needed, right?

As Westbrook and the Lakers return to Washington for the second time since the trade, there’s no better time to revisit the deal that sent him to Los Angeles, starting with the haul itself.

MORE: Why December could be most pivotal stretch of 2022-23 season for Lakers

Russell Westbrook trade details

For a refresher, the trade was a blockbuster in every sense of the word, with five teams, nine players and multiple picks involved.

Specific to the Lakers and Wizards, here’s how things shook out:

  • Lakers get: Russell Westbrook, 2028 second-round pick
  • Wizards get: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma

Washington also acquired Spencer Dinwiddie from the Nets and Aaron Holiday and Isaiah Todd’s draft rights from the Pacers. The Wizards’ other outgoing player, Chandler Hutchison, was sent to the Spurs.

Kuzma and Todd are the only players from the deal that remain on the Wizards’ roster, but the blockbuster trade made it possible for Washington to transform its roster into what it is now.

  • Harrell was traded to the Hornets for Vernon Carey and Ish Smith.
  • Dinwiddie was traded to the Mavericks for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Caldwell-Pope and Smith were traded to the Nuggets for Will Barton and Monte Morris.

MORE: Lakers reportedly discussing Russell Westbrook-DeMar DeRozan deal

On the Lakers’ side of things, Westbrook’s fit has been just as complicated as many thought it would be when the trade was first reported. Westbrook is averaging 17.8 points, 7.1 assists and 7.0 rebounds as a Laker, but the numbers don’t tell the entire story.

After butting heads with head coach Frank Vogel in Year 1, Westbrook has seemingly bought into the philosophy of new head coach Darvin Ham, welcoming a reserve role that’s allowed him to thrive. Still, it’s fair to wonder whether the Lakers would have been better off standing pat or pursuing a different deal.

As respectable as Westbrook has been in his new role, his numbers pale in comparison to some of the Lakers’ outgoing players. Kuzma is averaging 20.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Wizards this season, and Caldwell-Pope is averaging 11.2 points per game while shooting 47.9 percent percent from 3-point range for the Nuggets.

Could those players have produced at a similar level had they remained in LA? It’s impossible to know. That’s exactly why blockbuster trades are so fun to revisit.


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