The Washington Wizards sent nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook and two future second-round draft picks to the Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the No. 22 pick in this year’s draft (which they dealt to the Indiana Pacers).
The Lakers falling short of expectations this past season signaled a sizable shake-up would be on the horizon.
Adding Westbrook to the equation means the Lakers' tenure of unrestricted free agent Dennis Schroder comes to an end after one season.
Westbrook alone doesn’t rectify the team’s shooting woes, but he’s expected to be an improved, consistent scoring threat that the team desperately needed.
When healthy, James is still one of the best players in the game, but asking him to carry the bulk of the playmaking responsibilities is a tall task to ask of anyone approaching their 19th season.
The Lakers are better served to allow for Anthony Davis and a third star to perform the heavy lifting the majority of the season while James picks his spots.
James understood the importance of bringing in a third star at this juncture of his career.
San Antonio Spurs unrestricted free agent DeMar DeRozan was in talks with James, sources said, but the Westbrook deal eliminated that option because it would have required a sign-and-trade scenario and a Kuzma inclusion.
The Lakers are not done making moves.
Shooting is a major priority as the free agency period looms. No one knows how this new Big 3 of James, Davis and Westbrook will fare. But James and Westbrook have a close relationship, one they hope will translate to success on the court and giving the triple-double king his best chance at winning a title.
James has always stated that he can play with anybody. That will be put to the test.
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