The Los Angeles Lakers may have salvaged what was turning into yet another disappointing season when they traded Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and a 2027 first-round draft pick for D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley a day before the trade deadline.
Many fans would’ve been happy if the team had simply dumped Westbrook without getting anything of value in return. Instead, it got what looks like outstanding value for him.
A big reason why was the fact that the deal included Vanderbilt, who has emerged as a defensive standout and a good rebounder, as well as Beasley, who always carries the threat of being a 3-point sniper.
But both almost became members of the New Orleans Pelicans instead (h/t Sports Illustrated).
Via The Lowe Post:
“The Pelicans were close to getting Beasley and Vanderbilt from Utah at the trade deadline, or close-ish,” Lowe revealed. “They had a pretty good offer on the table, it was a draft equity-based offer with a pick that maybe was not as good as the Lakers pick that they ended up trading, but pretty close from what I’ve heard.”
Perhaps the deal-breaker was Mike Conley, the veteran point guard the Utah Jazz were looking to get rid of.
“But one of the issues was maybe the picks weren’t exactly equivalent, but the other issue was [Mike] Conley, and the Jazz’s determination to get off of Conley, and could the Pelicans figure that out somehow and it became a little complicated,” Lowe explained. “But that trade ends up helping the Lakers, helping the Wolves, and the Pelicans don’t get involved in it and now they’re falling apart.”
After a couple of years of lousy luck, the Lakers and their beleaguered general manager Rob Pelinka finally got a strong dose of good luck in the form of the Westbrook trade. It could very well make them into a very good team, if not a contender, next season.