Russell Westbrook Trade Rumors: Lakers Had 'a Strong Level of Disagreement' on PG

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) dribbles the ball during the first half of Game 3 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Saturday, May 29, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Los Angeles Lakers front office reportedly had a "strong level of disagreement" about whether to make a blockbuster trade to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards.

CBS Sports' Bill Reiter provided background details about the trade talks that were led by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka (via Dan Lyons of The Spun):

"There was a strong level of disagreement within the Lakers organization about whether or not Russell Westbrook was ultimately the person that they needed to pursue with the picks and the players, including Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma, who are now headed to Washington. Communicating with one Lakers source, who was not excited about the Westbrook trade. He said in the end, that the star power and belief by Rob Pelinka, the general manager in L.A., that Westbrook and his ability, his track record of excellence is what the Lakers need, even though it's an interesting pairing. Westbrook needs the ball in his hands."
CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

"This could be the end of the Alex Caruso era in Los Angeles."<a href="https://twitter.com/sportsreiter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sportsreiter</a> says the Russell Westbrook addition likely means the departure of Alex Caruso. <a href="https://t.co/yBTvKPEsZq">pic.twitter.com/yBTvKPEsZq</a>

In the end, the Lakers decided to make a calculated bet that bringing in another high-impact player in Westbrook will be more valuable in their quest to chase another championship than relying on key role players, which is why they gave up Kuzma, Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to acquire the 2016-17 NBA MVP.

The triumvirate of Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis is undoubtedly a matchup nightmare for opponents, and Talen Horton-Tucker has emerged as a high-upside secondary scorer who should benefit from playing alongside three players who demand constant defensive attention.

Russell Westbrook @russwest44

Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one. Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way. <a href="https://t.co/wTvHQHPIOU">pic.twitter.com/wTvHQHPIOU</a>

Now the question becomes how L.A. will build out the rest of its roster.

Marc Gasol is the only player outside of its Big Three with a guaranteed contract for next season. Alfonzo McKinnie has a non-guaranteed deal, while Horton-Tucker, Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok are restricted free agents.

The Lakers are likely hoping they'll be able to attract a lot of veteran depth players on short, team-friendly deals in order to chase a title.

Even if they are successful with those type of additions throughout the remainder of the offseason, their 2021-22 campaign will rest solely on the health of the Big Three.

James and Davis both missed an extended portion of the Lakers' title defense this past season with injuries, and Los Angeles obviously tumbled down the Western Conference standings without them.

Yet, in an NBA dominated by star power, it's hard to blame Pelinka and Co. for taking a chance on Westbrook being a difference-maker while the team's championship window is wide open.