And the bomb exploded: Russell Westbrook, to the Lakers

Russell Westbrook leaves Washington for the Lakers of LeBron and Davis. Unexpected move on draft night ... and future uncertain.


The NBA is like that. A place where things as incredible as they are inexplicable, as real as they are unrealistic, as surreal as tachycardic, happen, for better or for worse. Nobody knows why or how, but there is the surprise movement. One that is going to give a lot to talk about and that is going to cover the covers for a whole summer, in which it seems difficult for there to be something of such significance. Unless people like Chris Paul decide, and it doesn't seem like it, that their place is far from Arizona. For now, these are the data; or rather, the fact: Russell Westbrook heads to the Lakers and will share a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis next season. A surprise transfer that has been increasing in volume in recent hours and that represents the union of three stars of the best League in the world in the largest franchise of the 21st century and, why not, also of the history of the competition.

The transfer, the first rumors of which Shams Charania has advanced (of course) and that Adrian Wojnarowski has definitively announced (for a change) has been completed as follows: Westbrook leaves the Wizards, who also release two second rounds, corresponding to the drafts of 2024 and 2028. For their part, the Lakers part with a lot that includes Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, in addition to the first round of this draft, number 22, with which they have selected an Isaiah Johnson, later traded to the Pacers by Aaron Holiday ... and the 31st pick, Isaiah Todd. A substantial and large litter that causes two things: that the Wizards part with the 44 million that Westbrook will collect in 2021-22, and the 47 corresponding to the player option of the following season. And that the Angelenos say goodbye to two important pillars of the 2020 ring (Kuzma and KCP) and, in the case of Kuzma, to the last stronghold of the generation that arrived after Kobe Bryant, and that has been used to obtain transfers through of which key players have arrived, mainly Anthony Davis.

The draft has always been a night when managers do their homework behind the scenes, sharpen their weapons for higher picks, or sell their own for a handsome prize. In recent days, it was Buddy Hield (Sacramento Kings) who was ringing for the Angelenos, whose experiment with Dennis Schröder has not gone as expected and they were planning to get a point guard. The possibility of Chris Paul ending up in Hollywood also sounded, very far away, especially after Magic Johnson hinted at such a possibility seconds after the Finals ended. But neither one nor the other have ended up in the Lakers, who are made with the services of a Westbrook only half-listed, but who wanted to leave Washington after a season forged with a victorious play-in and a first round without history against the Sixers . And also, of course, a stagnant project.

What do the Lakers do?

is the question that everyone has in mind. The Lakers were looking for a coup to return to the ring last season, something they have not been able to do in the present, largely due to injuries. LeBron's advanced age (he will turn 37 in December) and Davis' physical punishment forced him to reinforce the squad to be able to compete with the great teams in the competition. However, no one knows if that will be achieved with Westbrook, and many view with some reluctance a move that was questioned from the beginning. On the one hand, the Lakers get rid of the 13 million from Kuzma, the 9 from Harrell and the 13 from KCP, with which they will be able to pay almost the entire salary of the new signing. But the sporting capacity of the base himself, and the difficulty generated by his enormous salary, will cause a double problem: in the game scheme and in the management part, which is left with practically no salary margin to reinforce an impoverished squad and, at the moment , quite short.And then there's Wetsbrook itself, of course. An ambivalent man, a misunderstood talent, a target of criticism, a character deservedly questioned, a player who is there ... but neither likes, nor dislikes, nor quite the opposite. The point guard is coming off a historic season, in which he has averaged triple-double for the fourth time in his career, with a truly incredible second half and partially reconciling with a public opinion that has always been against him. But he does reach a hopeful, has to share a ball that is difficult for him to release, and has an excessively monopolizing style of play, something that may not square with LeBron. Nor is he distinguished by his defensive effort, something key in Frank Vogel's scheme. And there are those who think that his way of playing can be detrimental for a team that fights for the title. What's more, Westbrook was only close to it on the Thunder ... with Durant. And since he separated from that elongated shadow, he has not opted for the ring, not in OKC, not in Houston or, of course, in some Wizards to which he came looking for records and money, when he could have accepted a lower salary to go. to an aspirant.

So are the Lakers. LeBron and Davis have not been to the Games and have all summer to recover, longer than usual when you consider that they lost in the first round. And a deserved rest if we take into account that they linked the ring with the smallest rest in history between seasons, and a basketball course of 72 highly condensed games and marked by the coronavirus. The departure of Kuzma, whose explosion has not occurred, was expected, like that of a Harrell that has not worked at all and was transfer meat. But KCP has been a point man the past two seasons, and Westbrook's arrival raises more questions than answers. The immediate future is uncertain, LeBron is still years old, Davis's physique is always a mystery and the new signing raises doubts that only time will solve. A bombshell that can explode in the hands of others. You know, NBA stuff.

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