Everybody is talking about the Los Angeles Lakers after the five-team trade that included the Lakers, Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs.
What about the Wizards?
Did they make the right move in trading Russell Westbrook, who just averaged a triple-double last season?
The entire details of the blockbuster trade can be seen in a Tweet that is embedded below from Fred Katz of The Athletic.
The Pacers ended up getting the number 22 overall pick from the Lakers, but the reason they got the pick was actually because of what they sent the Wizards (Aaron Holiday, cash considerations and the 31st overall pick).
Now, Spencer Dinwiddie was more of a simple sign-and-trade than anything, so the Wizards did not have to give the Nets much.
The key question for the trade is were they smart to give up Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (and Aaron Holiday/Isaiah Todd who they got with the Lakers draft pick in a trade with the Pacers)?
- Last season the Wizards barley made the playoffs
- They lost 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs
- Westbrook is approaching 33 years old
- Having two ball dominant players in Westbrook and Bradley Beal is hard
- Kuzma is only 26 years old and has career averages of 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game
- Westbrook still has 2-years and over $90 million left on his contract (via Basketball Reference)
While Westbrook is still a superstar caliber player in the NBA, and averaged 22.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game, the Wizards could still easily be 34-38 again without him.
They were already getting a capable replacement from the Nets in Dinwiddie, who averaged 20.6 points and 5.8 assists per game in his last fully healthy season.
Not to mention what they got from the Lakers was a young forward who can score at a high level in Kuzma who can play off the ball, and critical role players in Harrell and Caldwell-Pope that contribute to winning basketball.
There is a good case to be made that the 2022 Wizards might even have a better record than they had last season.
The season for the Wizards will come down to how good Dinwiddie returns to be after his season injured, and can Kuzma co-exist putting high scoring numbers next to Beal?
They also have a new coach in Wes Unsled Jr.
Trading Westbrook could end up being a net positive move in the win column and at worst it is a lateral move.
There was no loser in the trade because Westbrook may very well help the Lakers win an NBA title next season, and the Wizards may be a better team than they were last year.