The Russell Westbrook to the Lakers’ trade came together fast. The Lakers were near a deal to bring in Kings’ sharpshooter Buddy Hield, but when Westbrook became available LeBron James reportedly pushed for it, and suddenly Westbrook was a Laker.
Reports have circulated that Westbrook forced his way out of Washington, demanding a trade. Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard shot that down in an interview with NBC Sports Washington.
“I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”
Nice random shot at the Clippers. There’s no way the savvy Clippers front office looked at Westbrook, looked at its roster (even without Kawhi Leonard), and said, “that’s the guy we need, let’s give up good role players for him.” Still, quality out-of-the-blue dig at the Clippers.
There is no reason to say this didn’t go down exactly as Sheppard described. However, how a trade like this usually comes together is along the lines of the teams having some low-level talks, Westbrook and LeBron talked, LeBron and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka talked, and plenty of groundwork was laid before Westbrook and Sheppard had a conversation. Still, it benefits Sheppard and the Wizards to make this seem as smooth and drama-free as possible, other players and agents notice that kind of thing and how organizations treat players. It’s just good PR.
Washington is one of the interesting and difficult to predict teams in the East this season. They have a healthy Bradley Beal and the deepest roster they have had in a while around him with Rui Hachimura, Kyle Kuzma, Davis Bertans, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Deni Avdija, Montrezl Harrell, Thomas Bryant, and more.