December 30, 2021.
That's the date that the Los Angeles Lakers will see their best player (LeBron James) turn 37 years old.
Their second best player (Anthony Davis)?
He's only 28 years old and won't turn 29 until March, but has a long history of getting injured.
It's safe to say that the Lakers are in as win now mode as a team can be in the NBA.
Recently, the Lakers, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs completed a five-team trade that sent the Lakers another aging player (Russell Westbrook).
The full details of all of the players, picks and money that were moved in the massive blockbuster trade can be seen in a Tweet that is embedded below from Fred Katz of The Athletic.
Westbrook is the 2017 MVP of the NBA and is coming off another season in which he averaged a triple-double.
2021 stats: 22.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game.
On November 12, he will turn 33 years old, and while his game relies on supreme athleticism and he's out of his prime, he still has not shown any let-up in the stats department.
So, what grade do the Lakers deserve for their part in the five-team trade?
First, what needs to be looked at is what the Lakers gave up.
Remember, they are a win now team, so pieces that cannot help them directly compete for a championship next season aren't relevant.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, 22nd overall pick (which became Isaiah Jackson for the Pacers) was what they gave up.
- Caldwell-Pope is a solid player who hit big shots for them and shot over 41% from three-point range last season, but could be very streaky at times.
- Harrell had productive numbers at 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game, but his season still felt disappointing and he does not move the needle.
- Kuzma is the most valuable piece out of the two of them, because he is only 26 years old and has career averages of 15.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
- Isaiah Jackson is a talented forward from Kentucky, but at 19 years old there is not much he could do to help James win his fifth ring next season.
The Lakers gave up solid players, but the most valuable out of all of them is Kuzma, because of his age and scoring ability (but age does not really matter for the Lakers) their window is this season and next.
Meanwhile, Westbrook is a guy who can easily go off for 20 assists, or 30+ points, or ten + rebounds etc.
He's also played in many big games (including the 2012 NBA Finals) and has always been on a contending team for the majority of his career.
Not to mention he spent time playing with Kevin Durant for a decade, and Paul George a few seasons ago (players similar to James).
The only reservation about Westbrook is his inability to be a spot up shooter, because he shoots so poorly from the thee-point range (31.5% 3P last season), and James plays well with shooters around him.
At the end of the day, the roster the Lakers had going into the 2021-22 season was not good enough to compete for a title, but with Westbrook (while it's a gamble) they have a legitimate shot to get James his fifth NBA Championship.