The Lakers are a team that has been in the news more than most, and not just because of their recent success. They have frequently changed up their roster to keep pace with modern NBA teams, but they may be regretting some of those moves now that Anthony Davis is playing for the Pelicans and Russell Westbrook is at Golden State.
The “russell westbrook trade to lakers” is a question that has been asked by many people. If the Lakers didn’t trade for Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, how would they look today?
Over the previous three seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have been the most-watched team in the NBA, owing to LeBron James’ decision to go to Los Angeles. Because he was the most dominating player of his period, The King brings a large fanbase to the brand everywhere he goes. After all, King James has triumphed in every city he has visited, including Miami, Cleveland, and finally Los Angeles.
LeBron James, as the greatest leader in the game, has a greater impact on winning than any other player in the league, and this has been the case for a long time. In the 2020 covid-shortened season, James was also a member of a championship squad, as he pushed the Lakers organization to go into win-now mode by signing a large deal with Anthony Davis before the season began. The Lakers are known for being a win-at-all-costs organization, and with LeBron on the roster, they traded all of their future assets for Davis, a win-now superstar.
It worked out in their advantage, as Davis and LeBron went on a tear throughout the league and dominated the playoffs on their way to the 2020 NBA title. The Lakers, on the other hand, have been mediocre at best since then. Last season, the Lakers struggled to a first-round elimination due to Davis’ never-ending injuries and LeBron James’ aging appearance. Los Angeles refused to acknowledge their predicament, dismantling their championship core for 2020 and replacing it with former MVP Russell Westbrook.
Of course, Westbrook has not been a boon to the Lakers, and he may have made matters worse by failing to fit in with an aging LeBron James. With a 22-22 record, the Lakers are at.500 and will most certainly miss out on the playoffs unless they win a play-in game. Was it the proper decision for the Lakers to lose all of its young talents in order to win the 2020 title, looking back on the two blockbuster deals to bring in Davis and Westbrook? It’s time to find out by looking back at the choices made by the Los Angeles Lakers during the last three years.
Anthony Davis Trade Package
Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, De’Andre Hunter 2021 First-Round Pick (Isaiah Jackson), 2023 First-Round Pick, 2024 First-Round Pick, 2025 First-Round Pick, 2026 First-Round Pick, 2027 First-Round Pick, 2028 First- Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones Anthony Davis will be drafted in the second round in 2022.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, De’Andre Hunter, Brandon Ingram, cash, a 2021 1st round draft pick (Isaiah Jackson was later selected), a 2023 1st round draft pick, and a 2024 1st round draft pick to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of a three-team trade; the Los Angeles Lakers traded Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, Moritz Wagner, and a 2022 2nd round draft pick to (9-30 protected, 2022 unprotected) (2023 first-round selection is a good candidate for a trade with LAL.) (NOP has the option of deferring its first-round selection from 2024 to 2025.) $1 million $1.1 million
The Lakers were aware that Anthony Davis was available and that he wanted to join LeBron James in Los Angeles. Davis was a 6-time All-Star and MVP contender at the time, with a career average of 23.7 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game. Davis was also dubbed the NBA’s greatest talented power forward because of his combination of physical size, basketball IQ, and shooting and ball-handling abilities.
The Lakers had to give up their whole future in order to wrest Davis away from the New Orleans Pelicans. Despite his father, LaVar Ball’s, dissatisfaction, Lonzo Ball was released as the team’s second-round choice. Ball wasn’t nearly the all-around player he is today, but he was still respectable with 10.0 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 6.4 assists per game. Los Angeles was also compelled to release Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 overall selection in 2016, who had career averages of 13.9 points per game and 4.0 rebounds per game at the time. De’Andre Hunter’s rights were also handed away, while Josh Hart, a starting-caliber swingman, was also thought expendable. Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones, Mortiz Wagner, and a few draft selections were also released as part of the deal.
In retrospect, it is a tremendous deal for a superstar like Anthony Davis. While the Pelicans only have Ingram and Hart on their roster right now, the Lakers signed Anthony Davis and are on their approach to winning the NBA championship in 2020. The Lakers will not win the 2020 championship without the Davis deal, but they will have a championship core later on.
Russell Westbrook Trade Package
Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Russell Westbrook’s No. 22 selection, a second-round pick in 2024, and a second-round pick in 2028
The Washington Wizards traded a 2023 2nd round draft pick, a 2024 2nd round draft pick, and a 2028 2nd round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers on August 6, 2021; the Brooklyn Nets traded Spencer Dinwiddie to the Washington Wizards; the Indiana Pacers traded Aaron Holiday and Isaiah Todd to the Washington Wizards; the Los Angeles Lakers traded Isaiah Jackson to the Indiana Pacers; the Los Angeles Lakers traded Isaiah Jackson to the Indiana Pacers; the Los Angeles La Indiana was also granted a trade exemption. The 2023 conditional second-round pick is CHI’s, while the 2024 second-round selection is the least advantageous. WAS owns the second-round selection in 2028, but the second-round pick in 2024 is more advantageous. A swap for the 2025 second-round selection is a possibility; Brooklyn also earned a trade exemption. The second-round selection in 2022 is a chance to switch teams.
The Lakers made their second big move by signing Russell Westbrook, a 9-time All-Star and previous MVP. The move was made for one simple reason: to provide protection for LeBron James, who is getting older. Even though LeBron was the greatest player in the world in 2020, he began to look his age in 2021, and he was no longer capable of carrying the Lakers on his back with Davis in and out of the lineup due to injuries. The Lakers believed they had a ball-handler in Westbrook who could carry the offense while James rested.
In that way, the move made sense, but not when Westbrook and James are on the court together. Both players need the ball to be productive as superstars, and Westbrook, in particular, is inefficient off the court. That was evident in Houston, as Westbrook was unable to assist the Rockets in defeating a tanking Thunder team in the first round of the “Bubble” playoffs. However, the Lakers went ahead and completed the transaction, most likely with LeBron’s approval.
In retrospect, the Lakers may have been harmed by this transaction since they lost three competent rotational players who might have provided LeBron with the depth he needs at this point in his career. Going for big names may backfire at times, and Westbrook may be one of them.
Without blockbuster trades, how would the Lakers look today?
Here’s what the Lakers’ depth chart would have looked like if they hadn’t pursued Davis and Westbrook in the first place, presuming they had signed the role players they did lately.
Lonzo Ball and Kendrick Nunn are the point guards.
Talen Horton-Tucker, Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Malik Monk are the shooting guards.
Brandon Ingram, De’Andre Hunter, and Wayne Ellington are the small forwards.
LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Carmelo Anthony are all power forwards.
Montrezl Harrell, Dwight Howard, and DeAndre Jordan are the centers.
Without the two superstars on the roster, the Lakers have plenty of depth, and manpower is precisely what an aging King needs at almost 37 years old. Even though none of these players are as well-known as Davis or Westbrook, they are all capable of starting games when necessary.
It stings to lose these starting-caliber players because they much outshine Avery Bradley, Trevor Ariza, Kent Bazemore, and the other guys thrown into the lineup this season. This becomes even more apparent when we examine how the Lakers’ contracts will be structured, since they now owe over $80 million to Davis and Westbrook alone.
Salary Caps and Contracts
Obviously, LeBron James is earning enormous money ($41,180,544 and $44,474,988 this season and next season). Brandon Ingram will be locked in in Los Angeles for the next few years if he signs a max contract ($29,467,800, $31,650,600, $33,833,400, $36,016,200). When compared to Anthony Davis (15th) and Russell Westbrook (35th), Ingram is the 35th highest-paid player (4th). As a result, Ingram is now and in the future on a highly team-friendly contract.
Hart is set to earn a little more than $12 million over the next three years (player option included), while Lonzo Ball gets paid well ($18,604,651, $19,534,884, $20,465,117, $21,395,348) and has a player option in his final season. If the Lakers had retained Hart and Ball, both players could have been able to earn a little less to help the club out.
For the next two seasons, De’Andre Hunter will earn less than $10 million, and in 2024, he will earn roughly $12 million. This year, Kuzma and Harrell are earning a combined $20 million, and their long-term contracts might be renegotiated, particularly if the club is in contention. Finally, the other role players (Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn, DeAndre Jordan, and Wayne Ellington) will take the bare minimum, like they did last season. Finally, if the Lakers are serious about retaining Talen Horton-Tucker, he’ll be given a long-term contract. He’ll earn $9,500,000, $10,260,000, and $11,020,000 over the following three seasons, with a player option at the conclusion.
Paying over $44 million for two seasons for a turnover-prone Russell Westbrook and an injury-prone Anthony Davis far trumps having a team full of young players and lots of depth. Over the next five years, Davis will earn the following amounts: $35,361,360, $37,980,720, $40,600,080, $43,219,440 (player option in 2025). He will not be able to remain fit for the following three years in order to make up for the income he gets paid.
Los Angeles has invested all of its resources on two unreliable players rather than a slew of budding talents who can aid the franchise in the future. Would the Lakers have won a championship by now if they hadn’t traded for Davis and Westbrook?
Would This Team Be a Champion In The NBA?
Even if the Lakers did not win the NBA championship in 2020, they would have been in contention this season. Take a look at how the “youngsters” have progressed. Brandon Ingram, who made the All-Star Team in 2020, is one of the top young players in the world, averaging 22.7 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, and 5.2 assists per game this season. Lonzo Ball is one of the league’s most reliable starting point guards, combining great defense with playmaking abilities. Lonzo is a lot more reliable point guard who seldom takes poor shots, as opposed to an unpredictable Westbrook who is prone to turnovers.
Josh Hart has matured into a very respectable starting-caliber wing in the NBA, averaging 13.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season. Kyle Kuzma is enjoying a career revival with the Washington Wizards, averaging 15.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor. Without Davis, the Lakers’ starting center, Montrezl Harrell, is averaging 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Of course, De’Andre Hunter hasn’t yet reached his peak, but he’s already showing flashes of potential by averaging 12.1 points per game at the age of 24.
For the role players, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who created a strong defensive pair with Danny Green, was vitally critical for the Lakers’ championship run in 2020. Caldwell-Pope shot 38.5 percent from three-point range during the regular season in 2020, and 37.8 percent in the playoffs. He’s a far better 3-and-D role player than the Lakers currently have. Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and DeAndre Jordan would all have signed their current contracts. Instead of starting games, these guys would be excellent backups for a championship team, which is exactly what they need.
The Lakers would not be at.500 if all of these players had played together this season; instead, they would be one of the greatest teams in the West. Brandon Ingram is a viable second-scoring option who, rather than an unpredictable Westbrook or an injury-prone Davis, would be an ideal companion for LeBron. Caldwell-Pope, Hunter, Horton-Tucker, and Hart, among others, bring controlled play to the point guard position, while 3-and-D players Caldwell-Pope, Hunter, Horton-Tucker, and Hart cover the wing positions. Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma are better than the Lakers’ current big men and will be ready to play instead of Davis, who has only appeared in 63 games in the previous two seasons combined.
Is It Possible That The Lakers Made A Long-Term Mistake?
In a word, the Lakers gave up their future for a chance to win a championship in 2020. That was evident at the time, but with LeBron James on the team, the Lakers were too focused on winning a championship. The Davis deal was a success at the time, despite the fact that detractors might argue that James benefited immensely from the covid-shortened season. Perhaps things would be different if the NBA season had started without a hitch. Nonetheless, the Lakers would have been better off without Davis and Westbrook on the roster at this point in the season.
If the Lakers had not traded for Davis and Westbrook, they would have had a superior future roster with a potential to win several championships. Players like Ingram, Ball, Hart, and Hunter will continue to grow, and their improvement will only accelerate under LeBron James’ tutelage. With Russell Westbrook on the roster, the Lakers will not win a championship, and the franchise’s future does not seem bright.
James is nearly 37 years old and has seen his level of play decline in the previous two years, so the Lakers will be unable to depend on him in the future. Davis, on the other hand, is prone to injuries, and this isn’t likely to alter as he grows older. The only young players on the team with promise are Talen Horton-Tucker and Malik Monk, but neither will likely become All-Stars. Los Angeles has put their future on hold for the sake of a single title, when they might have set themselves up for multiples if they had kept their squad together.
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The “nba trade rumors” is a question that has been asked by many. If the Lakers didn’t trade for Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, how would they look today?
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