NBA Central: “Here’s a great player in Russell Westbrook, played in OKC, wanted to be traded, went to Houston, wanted to be traded, came to D.C., wanted to be traded and is now in L.A.” – Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis on Russell Westbrook 😯 (Via ESPN) pic.twitter.com/Mzen1eu9Aq
For weeks, Westbrook had been talking to Lakers star LeBron James about the possibility of playing together, sources said. They'd talk about working out together and how they'd push each other in the gym and on the court. Both are known around the NBA as insatiable workout guys who pride themselves on the condition they keep their bodies, and how early they get to the gym.
That morning, however, sources indicate Westbrook and Foucher called the Wizards to say that he was happy to play in Washington another two seasons, but if there was a trade with the Lakers that made sense for both franchises, he would welcome the chance to compete for a championship in his hometown.
Westbrook wanted to give Beal as much consideration as possible, talking throughout the offseason as they both mulled their futures with the team, sources said. But when reports about the Lakers' interest in Hield heated up, sources said Westbrook decided it was best to raise the possibility of a trade to the Wizards front office.
About two weeks ago, Russell Westbrook went to LeBron James’ home and together they and Anthony Davis had a conversation about the All-Star guard joining James and Davis on the Lakers. They talked about putting their egos aside and playing as one in their quest to bring the Lakers another NBA championship. Westbrook talked about how his only intention was winning and coming back home to Los Angeles to become a champion.
Westbrook had a growing desire to join James and Davis in Los Angeles to compete for a championship, sources said. He formally informed the Wizards of his desires recently, according to sources: if they could find a trade that works, Westbrook wanted to go to the Lakers.
Washington executed the deal with no issues from Beal, per sources. The three-time All-Star, who is entering the final season of his contract, has expressed no desire to leave the Wizards, according to sources. As speculation about his future has swirled, the team remains confident it can keep him for the long term. The Wizards can offer him a four-year, $180 million extension in October, but if he waits until 2022 free agency, he can sign a five-year contract for an estimated $235 million to return to Washington.
Stadium: "Sources tell me Beal right now has no desire to leave the Wizards." NBA Insider @ShamsCharania reports on Bradley Beal as the Lakers-Wizards work to complete Russell Westbrook trade, presented by @ATT 5G.
Chris Mannix: As others have noted, Westbrook deal not seen as a precursor to a Beal trade, per sources. Moving Westbrook creates future cap flexibility. Beal, of course, with a contract he can opt out of after next season, still wields a lot of power in this situation.
Fred Katz: The Lakers would be Russell Westbrook’s fourth team in as many seasons. 2018-19 with the Thunder, 2019-20 with the Rockets and 2020-21 with the Wizards. Each team change would come with Westbrook encouraging his way to a new destination.
Adrian Wojnarowski: This is a trade Washington wants to make with Bradley Beal in mind, creating some salary cap flexibility for the future to add talent around him, sources tell ESPN. The idea of returning to his Los Angeles roots has been appealing to Westbrook.
Bobby Marks: Salary implications on a proposed Westbrook trade: To LAL Russell Westbrook 2021/22- $44.2M 2022/23- $47.1M (P) To WAS Kyle Kuzma 2021/22- $13M 2022/23- $13M 2023/24- $13M (P) Montrezl Harrell 2021/22- $9.7M KCP 2021/22- $13M 2022/23- $14M ($4.9M guaranteed)
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Lakers are near a deal to acquire Washington's Russell Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Lakers and Wizards are in serious talks on a Russell Westbrook trade to L.A., sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Westbrook has become the Lakers‘ primary focus. He would give them a dynamic playmaker alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Shams Charania: Just in: The Lakers and Wizards are engaged on a trade that would send Russell Westbrook to L.A., sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . Westbrook wants a move elsewhere and the Lakers are his preferred destination, sources said.
Shams Charania: The Lakers and Wizards are discussing a trade that would send Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for Westbrook, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . The Lakers' No. 22 pick in the Draft could be in play, too.
The Wizards, multiple sources have said, are aligning toward a full rebuild should Beal ask out. It’s not a coincidence that Bleacher Report reported that there have been preliminary talks between the Lakers and Wizards about a deal for Russell Westbrook, a deal that league sources said was increasingly likely as of Sunday night.
A sense around the league is that would be contingent on what Washington does with point guard Russell Westbrook. The source said Beal may consider leaving if the Wizards opt to trade Westbrook this summer. There have been some reports about the Lakers having interest in Westbrook.
Lastly, the Lakers rumors have not gone away. Los Angeles has been linked by multiple sources to having interest in attaining Russell Westbrook, although the cap gymnastics to acquire the 2017 MVP will surely be tricky. It remains clear that Los Angeles' main objective this offseason is to find an on-ball creator that can lessen the playmaking duties of LeBron James.
According to sources, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been on the hunt for a veteran point guard, and Paul is on the list. There have also been talks about Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook being a potential candidate to move back home to Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal that could include free agent point guard Dennis Schroder, forward Kyle Kuzma and guard Talen Horton-Tucker, sources said.
Following their blown 3-1 lead to Denver, executives around the league wondered if the Clippers might panic and do something rash, such as trade for Russell Westbrook. Instead, they’ve made minor tweaks to the roster and coaching staff, replacing Doc Rivers with his assistant, Ty Lue. These new faces might not be any better on paper, but the blend could work better on the court. It’ll take more time to find out.
However, the two sides were able to get a deal done Wednesday night and some of the credit can go to Westbrook's agent Thad Foucher. "The two general managers hadn't talked in weeks, but Russell Westbrook's agent Thad Foucher really got them back, got them talking to day and within a few hours, they had a deal," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski told Scott Van Pelt.
Unlike Houston’s rightful reluctance to trade Harden, the Rockets’ new front office searched far and wide for Westbrook destinations as soon as he expressed that he didn’t want to be there anymore, according to multiple league sources. Houston viewed Westbrook’s desire to leave as a blessing in disguise. Trading him provides another opportunity to make Harden happy again. Many members of the Rockets’ organization believe Harden doesn’t actually want to leave, he just wants to win a title. The Rockets need to prove to Harden they’re the franchise best suited to help him win one before his contract can expire in 2022.
Russell Westbrook was an All-NBA selection in 19-20, but he received very little trade interest as he sought a trade from the Houston Rockets. "There. Was. No. Market. For. Russell. Westbrook," said Zach Lowe on his podcast one day after the trade. "I kept saying this over and over again. The Clippers were not interested. The Knicks were not interested unless they were incentivized. I don't know where the Hornets noise came from. Maybe it was credible. All I can say is from the people I know there, I never heard they were interested. There was, to my knowledge, nothing."
Trade discussions with the Hornets ended once it became apparent they’d select LaMelo Ball in the draft, and interest from the Knicks eventually fizzled, league sources say. That left the Wizards, a franchise dealing with its own challenges involving another polarizing point guard making over $40 million per year.
Michael C. Wright: Stephen Silas said he hasn't talked to James Harden since the Westbrook trade. "When stuff like this kind of happens, I kind of take a step back and allow guys some space. That's kind of where it's been as far as my communication with him."
HoopsHype spoke with one general manager, three executives, and an NBA scout for their reactions to the blockbuster trade and what it means for the players and their new teams. “It’s a wash,” one Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “Both teams needed to make a trade. Washington has to give up a pick because Wall has a bigger injury history and hasn’t played in two years. The contracts were the same. Russ should be really good in the East. Scotty (Brooks) should know how to use him. Washington will be better than they were since Russ is actually playing and Wall hasn’t been. I think Washington is for sure a playoff team.”
“The trade seemed inevitable,” another Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “Two players at similar stages of their careers and both having demanded a change of scenery. Brooks gets a force of nature with whom he is well versed. Houston gets a much needed first-round pick as they inch toward a rebuild.”
After playing against Harden in pick-up games and showing some explosion, one scout believes his fit next to Harden in the backcourt should be a good transition. “I think it was time for a fresh start for both,” an NBA scout told HoopsHype. “I like Russell going to Washington and giving them an opportunity to keep Brad happy. Scott Brooks knows how to use him, and he’ll be the lead guard. Houston getting Wall and playing him with Harden seems similar to the fit with Russell. Obviously, there’s a real unknown about how good he’ll be back from injury. I think Washington got the better of the trade but let’s see what Wall’s status is.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Russell Westbrook wanted to be in Washington, reunited with Scott Brooks, play with Brad Beal and John Wall wanted to play with James Harden, wanted to go to Houston. And finally they got that deal done.
Michael Lee: Someone close to Russell Westbrook told me DC was his preferred destination. Russ was intrigued about playing with Bradley Beal & excited to reunite with Scott Brooks. I can't remember a guy coming off an All-NBA season who preferred to play for the Wizards, so there's that...
Initial trade talks stalled over draft capital and the possibility of other players included in a deal — for instance, young big man Thomas Bryant —before both teams could come to terms on an agreement. In the end, it was a simple Westbrook-for-Wall swap with the addition of a heavily protected first-round pick. Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard declared a week ago that the Wizards had no plans on trading Wall and the Rockets were prepared to enter camp with Westbrook, but situations in the NBA are always fluid and can change on a dime — a phone call is all it takes.
Salman Ali: "Sources said that Westbrook cited a desire to "play my game" and concerns about the Rockets' casual culture." https://t.co/NPOpTDGEHd
John Hollinger: Important: Houston will receive a trade exception for a whopping $103,894. (There are theoretical examples where a team could use an exception this small, but I mean, not real ones).
The Washington Wizards and Houston Rockets have agreed to trade two disgruntled star point guards, John Wall and Russell Westbrook, in a blockbuster deal, sources told ESPN. The Wizards are sending Wall and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick to the Rockets for Westbrook in a deal that both players wanted and had been simmering for weeks, sources said.
Discussions had been stalled since mid-November, sources said, until the two general managers, Washington's Tommy Sheppard and Houston's Rafael Stone, decided to get on the phone Tuesday afternoon. They worked out a deal within hours, sources said.
For the Wizards and Rockets, there's hope that the exchange of guards will play a role in convincing the two franchise shooting guards on each team, Washington's Bradley Beal and Houston's James Harden, to want to stay long-term with their teams. Harden has privately asked for a trade, and Beal could become a free agent in 2021.
Houston's stance on Harden has not changed, a high-ranking Rockets source told ESPN, saying the team hoped to be competitive with the perennial MVP candidate on the roster this season and does not envision a scenario in which Harden would be traded before the opener. The Rockets have let it be known that they would require a return that included a young, potential franchise cornerstone and a massive picks package in any potential deal for Harden, according to sources.
Sources said that Westbrook cited a desire to "play my game" and concerns about the Rockets' casual culture. Westbrook was a third-team All-NBA selection during his season with the Rockets, averaging 27.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game, despite getting off to a slow start while recovering from knee surgery and adapting to a new franchise following an 11-year tenure in Oklahoma City.
Chase Hughes: Regarding Russell Westbrook and the No. 0. Other players have come in and asked to wear it and have been told 'no' because it was Gilbert Arenas' number. Those players, however, were not Russell Westbrook. So, we'll see.
Bobby Marks: The swap of the super max extensions: Russell Westbrook to Washington - $41.4M, $44.2M and $47.1M (P). John Wall to Houston - $41.3M, $44.3M and $47.4M (P).
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston has agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to Washington for John Wall and a first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Source confirms: Houston traded Russell Westbrook to the Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 protected first-round pick.
Concerning Harden, the Nets and 76ers were strong suitors weeks ago but Houston is refusing to talk turkey with anyone — and they don’t have to. With Westbrook, the problem for imagining a trade with him as the centerpiece is there just isn’t that robust of a market for him right now. The teams that might have made sense have all seemingly gone in other directions — Detroit drafting Kilian Hayes, Charlotte drafting LaMelo Ball, New York signing Austin Rivers (kidding).
Shams Charania on Russell Westbrook trade rumors: The Rockets engaged with several teams during draft/free agency week. (...) They talked to Cleveland, I'm told.
What’s Houston’s mindset going into training camp with Harden and Westbrook? Feigen: I think the organization’s mood is extremely cautiously optimistic, but optimistic. The organization has felt all along they need to bring these guys back and let them work with Stephen Silas, let them work with a slightly changed rotation, and let them feel good about that. Things get that way a little more when you’re apart and when you’re playing pickup ball with KD (Kevin Durant), and he’s so excited about what that team can do. You remember those good times in Oklahoma City, and they went to the Finals where Harden has not been since he left Oklahoma City.
Feigen: Harden, that would mean blow it up and start over in so many ways. You’re rebuilding if you move Harden. I think there’s a sense here, but really around the league, that they need to be patient on any consideration of moving Westbrook until he sort of rebuilds his stock to where teams start looking at him as a superstar again rather than what the last thing they saw, which was Westbrook in the bubble coming off the thigh injury more quickly than he normally would have and coming off COVID. Teams need to see him look like the full Russ again.
Bill Simmons: I thought Westbrook was going to Washington. And I had heard that Bradley Beal was driving the Westbrook thing and that they were actually going to include a pick potentially and it wasn't just a one-for-one that they were actually putting in more.
Salman Ali: .@Adrian Wojnarowski says the Rockets have engaged in Russell Westbrook trade discussions, but not James Harden ones. Says Houston getting both Harden and Westbrook back in training camp is more likely than Westbrook getting moved.
For what it’s worth, I had heard prior to the start of free agency that Houston had also asked for Thomas Bryant in any discussion, although it’s unclear how that would work now with Wood on board. There are a lot of moving parts here and the season is just around the corner. Man, this stuff is difficult!
Shams Charania: As Rockets/Wizards talks on Russell Westbrook-for-John Wall stall, Wall has made it clear he wants trade out of Washington to happen, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Chris Haynes: Yahoo Sources: The Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic had discussed a trade featuring Russell Westbrook for a package centered around Aaron Gordon, but talks never progressed.
Kelly Iko on Westbrook-to-Wizards rumors: I had heard that. Houston also wanted Thomas Bryant if that was going to be the case.
The Charlotte Hornets and the Knicks have registered the most substantive trade interest in Houston’s Russell Westbrook. It must be emphasized, though, that both teams have expressed conditional rather than aggressive interest.
In the Hornets’ case, there is a belief in some corners of the league that their appetite for a Westbrook trade increases significantly if Charlotte does not land LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft. Michael Jordan, Charlotte’s owner, is a known Westbrook admirer. Should the playmaking Ball be drafted before the Hornets’ turn at No. 3, according to the theory, there is a much stronger case to be made for trading for Westbrook in spite of the cost and attendant risk.
A Wall-Westbrook swap is not imminent, according to sources. But the fact that teams are having discussions that involve Wall should change the conversation about his deal, even if it is for another point guard in his 30s whose game is predicated mostly on athleticism and is also on a massive contract.
Wall’s version of this would be going to the Rockets for Westbrook — if it ever happens. If it doesn’t, maybe there’s something else out there. Maybe there’s another niche market that doesn’t consider Wall the league’s least-tradeable player and instead deems him more desirable than some other guys. After all, Wall is now fully healthy and has looked encouraging, according to people who have been at his offseason workouts and scrimmages.
Longtime NBA reporter Ric Bucher went on “The Odd Couple” podcast with Chris Broussard and Rob Parker and shared an interesting tidbit about the discord in Houston. According to Bucher, there is a “revolt” going on, and it’s directly related to Fertitta supporting President Trump. “I immediately thought this was Daryl Morey leaving, and Mike D’Antoni leaving, and Russell Westbrook and James Harden going ‘No offense to Stephen Silas or Rafael Stone, but we don’t want a starter kit, we’re playing for a championship,'” Bucher said on the podcast. “But what I heard is — and we know how much politics and political position had to do with the boycott and protests during the (NBA) bubble — I’m hearing that Tilman Fertitta’s strong Republican support and donations is one of the things that is contributing to this dissatisfaction, and those two [Westbrook and Harden] are not the only ones to want out of Houston. Lesser players are of the same mind. There is a revolt here because they look at Fertitta as a guy who supports the current president.”
The Houston Rockets feel no pressure to trade James Harden or Russell Westbrook regardless of the superstars' strong desire for fresh starts with different franchises and are "willing to get uncomfortable" as training camp opens and the season begins, sources told ESPN.
A source confirmed that the Rockets and Washington Wizards have discussed a Westbrook-for-John Wall deal, as first reported by The Athletic, but Houston wants assets in addition to Wall, a former All-Star point guard who is coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Shams Charania: The Rockets and Wizards have discussed a deal centered on Russell Westbrook for John Wall, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. No traction yet, Rockets are seeking more assets.
In the Hornets’ case, there is a belief in some corners of the league that their appetite for a Westbrook trade increases significantly if Charlotte does not land LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft. Michael Jordan, Charlotte’s owner, is a known Westbrook admirer. Should the playmaking Ball be drafted before the Hornets’ turn at No. 3, according to the theory, there is a much stronger case to be made for trading for Westbrook in spite of the cost and attendant risk. Some league insiders believe that the Hornets, at Jordan’s behest, want Ball at No. 3 should Minnesota and Golden State keep the top two picks to select Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman. Others see Charlotte springing a surprise at No. 3 and selecting the fast-rising Onyeka Okongwu.
Marc Stein: Charlotte and the Knicks are the only teams with verified trade interest in Russell Westbrook, league sources say ... interest with many caveats We expound on it all in this week's @nytimes On Basketball newsletter. Sign up here for direct delivery today: nytimes.com/stein
Reports of a Russell Westbrook trade request to the Houston Rockets leaked last week, but it could have been in response to James Harden privately angling for a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. "I heard it a number of days ago," said Brian Windhorst on The Lowe Post of Harden's interest in the Nets. "Guess who else heard it? Russell Westbrook. So I think Westbrook, who is kind of the forgotten man here, I think he goes in and is like 'You're not asking for a trade. I'm asking for a trade.' "And so I think in the postmortem, it might have been Harden who moved first."
August 13, 2022 | 9:32 pm EDT Update
Draymond Green: That’s the power of your voice Young! Let’s goooo! Bring the fam to the crib for dinner after
USA Basketball has picked its 12-man roster for the opening second-round window of World Cup qualifying, as the Americans look to move closer to clinching a spot in the field for next year’s event. Jim Boylen will return as coach, assisted again by Ty Ellis and Othella Harrington.
The roster will include six players — Michael Frazier II, Langston Galloway, David Stockton, DaQuan Jeffries, John Jenkins and Eric Mika — who were with the Americans for the previous qualifying window in July. The other six players for games Aug. 25 in Las Vegas against Uruguay and at Colombia on Aug. 29 are Tyler Cavanaugh, Malik Ellison, Dewan Hernandez, Mac McClung, Robert Woodard II and McKinley Wright IV.
August 13, 2022 | 7:37 pm EDT Update
The Warriors can pass on an extension for Poole if they choose, allowing him to become a restricted free agent next summer. If he gets there, one league executive speculates that we can expect at least one team with cap space to be ready to pounce. “I’d watch out for the Magic to be ready to make an offer if he’s restricted, knowing there’s a good chance Golden State is not going to match,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports.
“LeBron James has not done enough as a Laker to be on that list,” Jefferson said. “Bron been there now — this is his fourth season, right? They’ve been in there four seasons. Two years, they haven’t made the postseason. One year, they lost in the first round. And one year, they won a championship.”
Memphis at Golden State is another Christmas Day game on the NBA’s preliminary schedule for the 2022-23 season that is on course to be made official this coming week, league sources tell me. More NBA from me: http://marcstein.Substack.com
August 13, 2022 | 5:50 pm EDT Update
“It was just like a shock, but not too much of a shock,” Will Barton said when asked his reaction to the trade. “It was a shock in that, obviously, I had been there eight years, did so much there together, so it’s always shocking when you’ve been somewhere for so long and you’re moving on. But, at the same time, I embraced it, I’m welcoming a new chapter.”