After a first-round playoff exit, the Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly looking to make a huge splash in the trade market leading up to the draft.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers are nearing a deal for Russell Westbrook, one that would send Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 first-round pick to Washington.
Per Wojnarowski, one reason the Wizards want to make this trade is to appeal to Bradley Beal since it creates cap flexibility for them to add talent around him in the future.
Wojnarowski added the draft compensation is the main topic of discussion at this point as the two sides work toward finalizing terms of the trade:
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
Discussions toward a completed deal are largely centered on the draft compensation that would return to Wizards in the trade — whether deal includes Lakers 22nd overall pick tonight or perhaps second-rounders, sources tell ESPN. <a href="https://t.co/FV78eXb1Wh">https://t.co/FV78eXb1Wh</a>
B/R's Jake Fischer added the expectation is the Lakers-Wizards deal may not be finalized until after the start of the league year, and "it could even be finalized as a larger, multi-team deal during free agency."
Per Marcus Thompson of The Athletic, Beal is "opting to stay" with the Wizards.
Westbrook's fit with this Lakers roster will certainly be worth keeping an eye on. LeBron James is going to be their primary ball-handler as long as he is healthy.
While there's still plenty of time for the front office to make further additions, it seemed like the main targets for the Lakers this offseason would be shooters. They ranked 21st in the NBA last season with a 35.4 three-point percentage.
Three-point shooting has never been the strength of Westbrook's game, though he is still a valuable offensive player in other ways. The nine-time All-Star has averaged a triple-double in four of the past five seasons.
The Lakers could try to play with James and Westbrook as their two primary ball-handlers who take turns attacking the rim and setting up Anthony Davis.
Washington will have some quality depth around Beal and financial flexibility when the deal is finalized. Westbrook's $44.2 million salary in 2021-22 is around $9 million more than Kuzma, Caldwell-Pope and Harrell will earn combined next season.
The Lakers were in the market for another guard with Dennis Schroder set to become a free agent. Westbrook will fill that void when this deal becomes official, but there could be more work ahead for general manager Rob Pelinka.