The Los Angeles Lakers have received high praise for winning the Russell Westbrook trade.
In a March 9 column called “Re-Grading 2023 NBA Trade Deadline’s Biggest Deals 1 Month Later,” Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale gave the Lakers an “A” for acquiring D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt for Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and draft picks. The purple and gold are 7-4 since the trade deadline.
“The Lakers wanted depth, athleticism, shot creation, outside accuracy and volume and complementary defense prior to the trade deadline,” Favale wrote. “The arrivals of DLo, Beasley and Vando address nearly all those deficits. Los Angeles has the option of futzing and fiddling on the margins rather than exploring whole-sale transactions. Even without a hefty everyone-is-available sample, this deal has already paid dividends. The Lakers are 7-4 since the deadline, with the league’s best defense. Their offense is still, frankly, crud. But that’s to be expected when they don’t have LeBron or DLo, their two best shot creators, shot makers and passers. It is more notable that the Lakers are surviving these absences at all. Losing LeBron would have been a nonstarter beforehand. There is something to be said about increasing the roster’s structural coherence by shipping out Russell Westbrook. To do all this, while surrendering only one pick that’s safeguarded against disaster, is a demonstrative W.”
Russell is putting up 13.5 points and 5.0 assists per game in four starts with the Lakers. He’s missed six consecutive games due to a right ankle injury he suffered in the first game after the All-Star break, but the Lakers have still been able to win games, going 4-2 without D’Lo.
Meanwhile, Beasley is averaging 12.2 points while shooting 34.2% from beyond the arc with the Lakers, while Vanderbilt is averaging 7.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals.
Lakers Almost Missed Out on Jarred Vanderbilt & Malik Beasley
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported on March 2 that Vanderbilt and Beasley nearly went to the Phoenix Suns in a three-team deal involving the Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks. John Collins would have gone from Atlanta to Utah and Jae Crowder and Landry Shamet would have landed in Atlanta.
“Atlanta also tried to acquire Crowder in three-team trade talks with Utah and Phoenix centered around Collins going to Utah, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley going to Phoenix, and Crowder and Shamet going to Atlanta,” Scotto reported. “Among the reasons this scenario didn’t materialize was a disagreement in draft pick compensation that would’ve gone to Utah in the talks.”
The Suns wound up trading Crowder to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the blockbuster Kevin Durant trade. Brooklyn then sent Crowder to the Milwaukee Bucks.
How Is Russell Westbrook Doing With the Clippers?
Westbrook was bought out by the Jazz, allowing the one-time MVP to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. In seven starts with the Clippers, Westbrook is averaging 14.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists while shooting 51.9% from the floor and 28.6% from 3. LAC is 2-5 since signing the NBA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles.
The Clippers are in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, while the Lakers are in ninth place. The top six seeds automatically qualify for the playoffs, while seeds 7-10 make the play-in tournament.
The Lakers and Clippers face each other on April 5.