September 27, 2021 | 8:29 am EDT Update
After weeks of conversation with James, Davis and then-Lakers forward Jared Dudley, who emerged as a sort of consigliere to the Lakers’ superstars in these meetings, Westbrook believed he was on his way to L.A. For years he had angled to get home, and now everything was lining up for it to finally happen. There was only one problem: The Lakers’ efforts to complete the fairytale had been repeatedly stymied by the Wizards’ refusal to make Westbrook available because, sources said, they still planned on moving forward with the Westbrook-Beal backcourt. Westbrook, for his part, would have played out the remaining two seasons on his deal if a trade hadn’t materialized. “No one thought that Russ would get out,” said one source close to the discussions.
That day, a telltale moment occurred: Westbrook received a tip. Not only could the Lakers not break through with the Wizards, but also they were on the cusp of trading Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell — players whose salaries would be required to execute a Westbrook trade — to the Kings for Hield. “That set Russ off,” one source said. “All he wanted, by any means, was to be a Laker.”
On Sunday, the Lakers reached agreement on a two-year deal with guard Austin Reaves, converting his two-way contract to a standard NBA deal ahead of training camp. The Lakers will have a team option on the second year of Reaves‘ contract, sources said. Reaves, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, has impressed the Lakers throughout the offseason and had a strong showing at James’ minicamp. James and Westbrook even had the rookie conduct some fun-loving errands throughout the weekend in Vegas.
Sources said Pelinka and his front-office group strongly considered executing a sign-and-trade for the 32-year-old DeRozan, giving up Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope in the process, but couldn’t come to consensus terms with the Spurs in free agency or a suitable contract number for DeRozan. What’s more, sources say the DeRozan option never advanced to the point that it was presented to Buss.
Elsewhere on the roster, former All-Star center Andre Drummond’s midseason arrival not only failed to pay off on the court, but also, according to sources, poisoned the well with Gasol, who had joined the Lakers after being promised the starting job, sources said, only to be replaced by Drummond, who was given the same pledge.
However, Gasol’s frustrations with the predicament were well-known throughout the team and he was described by sources close to the team as “disgruntled” with his role and treatment. “There’s no way Gasol wants to be back nor do (the Lakers) want him back,” one source said after the season ended.