The Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards agreed to a trade this week that would swap Russell Westbrook and second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the No. 22 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
It was widely reported that Westbrook was one of two “Plan B” options the Lakers were exploring, alongside figuring out a way to acquire Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns. The “Plan A” options speak for themselves, but a deal was unfeasible.
The Westbrook acquisition was definitely a polarizing one, and there was “strong disagreement” within the Lakers organization on whether to pursue the move.
“There was a strong level of disagreement with the Lakers organization about whether or not Russell Westbrook was ultimately the person they needed to pursue with the picks and the players, meaning Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma, who are now headed to Washington,” reported Bill Reiter of CBS Sports.
“Communicating with one Lakers source who was not excited about the Westbrook trade, he said in the end, the star power and belief by general manager Rob Pelinka that Westbrook and his ability, his track record of excellence is what the Lakers need.”
On Friday, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times also reported an interesting tidbit.
“About two weeks ago, Russell Westbrook went to LeBron James’ home and together they and Anthony Davis had a conversation about the All-Star guard joining James and Davis on the Lakers,” he wrote.
“They talked about putting their egos aside and playing as one in their quest to bring the Lakers another NBA championship. Westbrook talked about how his only intention was winning and coming back home to Los Angeles to become a champion.”
News of this meeting led to many fans accusing the Lakers of tampering.
tampering ass lakers 😂 https://t.co/Pafm46gCkE
— Chris (@Cesepts) July 30, 2021
I wonder if the Lakers will get hit with tampering penalties again https://t.co/Vosp1xxEmt
— Riley (@_Rile_E_Coyote) July 30, 2021
Although this doesn’t look great for LA, it also doesn’t feel like the sort of thing that the league can really punish them for. The Los Angeles Clippers were accused of far greater improprieties with Kawhi Leonard and his recruitment process, and nothing happened on that front.
Similarly, a player literally broke another player’s wrist mid-game this year and faced no consequences.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
The NBA seems to be taking a more lax approach these days.
Could the league come down hard on the Lakers? Sure. Will they? Probably not.