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The seemingly impossible finally came true in Los Angeles.
After nearly two years of strife, pain, turmoil and every other synonym for “not having a great time,” the Lakers have finally divorced themselves from veteran guard Russell Westbrook.
And like most divorces, it was a messy and expensive battle.
On Wednesday, The Athletic and Stadium’s Sham Charania announced the three-team trade that shipped Westbrook out of Westwood (an LA staple, for the uninitiated).
Trading with Minnesota and Utah, the Lakers sent Russ — a $40 million per year player — out of town.
While the separation cost an arm and a leg (notably a protected 2027 first-round pick) for LA, it marked the end of a contentious relationship that all started when LeBron James poked at the Lakers’ front office in desperate need of a third All-Star on the team (including Anthony Davis) two years ago.
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The knee-jerk reaction from Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka spawned a trade with Washington on Aug. 6, 2021 to acquire Westbrook, in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Isaiah Jackson. A move LA didn’t realize they’d deeply regret.
Unable to fit into the team’s rotations; frequently dodging any chemistry with LeBron; and costing a hell of a lot of money per year that handicapped the team’s trading ability every offseason and trade period, Westbrook was an odd man out in LA.
According to StatMuse, the Lakers were 56-74 with Westbrook on the team.
With every trade period since 2021, the Lakers put up pathetic offers to get rid of Russ after seeing how much of a square peg in a round hole he was.
Despite Westbrook maintaining solid averages and having a good attitude about coming off the bench, the Lakers and their rabid fanbase were unable to put their arms around this guy. To the point where it created some sympathizers in the Southland (guilty as charged).
Thankfully, all of the non-denominational prayers in LA were answered on Wednesday when the Lakers not only got rid of Russ but managed to get solid returns in the three-team trade.
Not only did the Lakers reunite with former first-round pick D’Angelo Russell (an LA favorite), but they also received a capable three-point shooter in Malik Beasley and long forward Jarred Vanderbilt to bolster their defense.
While Rob Pelinka gets a fair share of flack for being LeBron’s bit…right-hand man in the front office, this Westbrook trade earned him a couple of points.
After all, it’s a better deal than the offseason propositions of sending Westbrook, straight-up, for John Wall back when the latter was a part of the Wizards.
Now Wall is a casualty for the Los Angeles Clippers and Westbrook’s trade out of LA gave the Lakers quality pieces to make a run at the 7-10 seed in the Western Conference.
However, it may not be the last that Los Angeles sees of Westbrook as rumors are now swirling that the Clippers may want to bring in the 34-year-old that he doesn’t come with a massive price tag.
A win-win-win-win for all teams involved. Westbrook included.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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