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Lakers Rumors: Russell Westbrook Sign-and-Trade for Kuzma, Horton-Tucker Discussed

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 21, 2021

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

If the Los Angeles Lakers have their way, Russell Westbrook will be coming home next season.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported Wednesday that Los Angeles had discussions about a sign-and-trade that would send Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker to Washington for Westbrook.

It's unclear if the potential trade has gained traction or if it's simply something the Lakers are discussing internally. Signing and trading Schroder seems like a foregone conclusion, even if it's just an avenue to acquire a trade exception.

Adding Westbrook to the mix, however, feels like it would be better in NBA 2K than real life.

For all his excellent traits, Westbrook is not effective unless he's in command of the offense. Defenses do not respect his jumper and sag off him when he plays off the ball—and for good reason. Only 11.1 percent of Westbrook's shots this season came on catch-and-shoot opportunities, and he shot an abysmal 34.8 percent on those chances.

Westbrook's partnership with James Harden and the Houston Rockets did not work in large part because the pair essentially abandoned all forms of cogent offense for a series of isolations. Each player needed the ball in their hands to make their greatest impact, and it led to a lot of standing around for their teammates.

In case you have not noticed: This was Year 18 of LeBron James' being very much in control of his teams. Even in past situations wherein coaches (and James himself) have spoken about James playing off the ball, those plans rarely stuck. Part of the reason Schroder was an oil-water mix with the Lakers is that he's most effective when he handles the ball, especially when he can do so while leading a secondary unit.

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The Lakers' top requirement for a veteran point guard to pair with James and Anthony Davis is surely knocking down catch-and-shoot jumpers in addition to leading the offense when LeBron needs a break. Westbrook does not fit the bill.

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