Russell Westbrook moves from Lakers to Jazz: AP source

Los Angeles-

The Los Angeles Lakers are swapping Russell Westbrook with Utah and acquiring guard D’Angelo Russell from Minnesota in a three-team, eight-player deal, a person with knowledge of the transaction told the Associated Press. on Wednesday night.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams haven’t announced the big deal done before the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday.

Los Angeles is also having guard Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt from Jazz, solidifying its core around LeBron James in an attempt to start its explosive season. The Lakers fell 25-30 on Tuesday while James set an NBA career scoring record, and they finished 13th in the 15-team Western Conference.

The Lakers are sending Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and their first pick in 2027 to Utah with Westbrook.

ESPN and The Athletic first reported the transaction. Those outlets also said Minnesota will receive Mike Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker from Utah, along with three second-round picks.

Westbrook’s tenure with the hometown team lasted only a tumultuous 130 games. The 2017 NBA MVP never grew with James and Anthony Davis out injured for any significant amount of time, struggling to turn his ball-heavy play into a more complementary role.

A move to the bench last fall led to minor improvements in the dismal 2021-22 season, but Westbrook remains extremely upset with the Lakers, who are in danger of missing out on the playoffs. second year in a row. Westbrook averaged 17.4 points, 7.2 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 turns per game during his time in Los Angeles, where fans frequently grumbled about it. His ability to shoot and turn is poor.

34-year-old Westbrook is making about $47 million in the final year of his contract. A few months after the Lakers angered a large section of fans around the world by not trading with Westbrook over the summer, they traded him for Russell, who played his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers after they picked him with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Russell was a rookie in Kobe Bryant’s final season, and the point guard was the most exciting part of two underperforming Lakers teams before Magic Johnson handed him over to Brooklyn in 2017. Russell is currently being traded. for the fourth time in his eight NBA seasons.

Russell is averaging 17.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds while hitting 46.5% of his career-best shots with Minnesota in the final year of his contract. co-paid him over $31 million this season. His style at both ends of the pitch could well complement James and Davis better than Westbrook, though the Lakers will have little time to figure that out.

The Timberwolves were downright flirting with Russell when he was on the market in July 2019, when Brooklyn finally reached a signing and transactional deal that brought Kevin Durant to the Nets and brought Russell to the Golden State. The Wolves finally got Russell by the February 2020 deadline and teamed him up with his draft classmate, Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Russell-Towns pairing was never really successful, in part because each player’s injuries often kept them out of the game at the same time. The Wolves drafted Anthony Edwards with the first overall pick of 2020, integrating another high-impact attacking player into a squad whose value is minimized if encounters are not frequent.

The Wolves made it to the knockout stages in 2022, but it’s only recently that Russell and Edwards have really come into the spotlight after coach Chris Finch appointed Edwards as the main ball handler and moved Russell into the no-no. ball to maximize his shooting ability.

Russell is on a career-best 3-point shoot rate of 39.1%, having hit five shots from deep or more in six of his last 17 games.

Conley is more of a pure first point guard than Russell, who has also never been a tenacious outer defender. The 35-year-old Conley is averaging 10.7 points and 7.7 assists in his fourth season with Utah.

Conley will reunite with big man Rudy Gobert, whose transition to Minnesota has been slow. Conley and Gobert combine very well with the Jazz, and their collective experience in the knockout stages will also help a Wolves team that has been inconsistent this season while trying to keep up with the crowded race. .

There will be an even bigger Minnesota reunion on the Lakers, with Vanderbilt and Beasley heading to LA, where Patrick Beverley has competed – although Beverley is appearing in numerous commercial rumors in the final hours before his time term. All four of those players helped the Timberwolves get to the 7th seed in the play-offs last season before Vanderbilt, Beasley and Beverley were switched to Jazz in the Gobert deal.

Beasley was a strong outsider, averaging 13.4 points while hitting 35.9% of 3-pointers for the Jazz. The 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt has averaged 8.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, excelling defensively and across the board, starting 41 of his 52 games.

The Lakers began their roster overhaul last month by trading Kendrick Nunn to Washington for Rui Hachimura, who has been a great fit so far as a winger pick. Los Angeles also intended to buy Kyrie Irving, but Brooklyn sent the controversial guard to Dallas.

Toscano-Anderson and Jones played almost no role after joining the Lakers for the off-season.


Writer Dave Campbell of AP Sports in Minneapolis contributed to this report.


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