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Lakers land Westbrook in blockbuster NBA deal

He’ll form an impressive ‘Big Three’ with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK JOINED LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster NBA trade deal with the Washington Wizards according to multiple reports on Thursday.

The 32-year-old guard joins playmaker James and dominant big man Davis on the 2020 NBA championship squad with hopes of a “Big Three” lineup making the Lakers a title threat in 2022.

The deal as reported by ESPN, USA Today and The Athletic sends Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope plus the 22nd pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft to the Wizards for Westbrook and two future second-round NBA Draft picks.

Westbrook, who grew up in suburban Los Angeles, averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists a game for the Wizards last season and confirmed his departure on Twitter.

“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” Westbrook tweeted. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way.

“It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization.”

Westbrook was the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player with Oklahoma City. He played for the Thunder from 2008 through 2019, was traded to Houston and then traded again last December to Washington, where he helped the Wizards reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

Nine-time NBA All-Star Westbrook, who won Olympic gold in 2012 at London, has led the NBA in assists in three of the past four seasons and was the NBA scoring champion in 2015 and 2017.

Last May, Westbrook passed Oscar Robertson for the most career triple-doubles — double digits in three statistical categories in a game — in NBA history, a mark now at 184.

In 2017, Westbrook set a record with 42 triple doubles in a season and joined Robertson as the only players to average a triple double for a full season — a feat he managed in three of the next four seasons as well.

James, 36, has been part of Big Three lineups on NBA championship squads with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland.

The Lakers won the 2020 NBA crown, James capturing his fourth career title, but they were ousted by Phoenix in the first round of this year’s playoffs.

Los Angeles used the 22nd pick of the draft to select University of Kentucky forward Isaiah Jackson, but if terms of the deal are correct, Jackson will be bound for Washington.

The Wizards add veteran talent from the Lakers around star guard Bradley Beal and opened salary cap room for free agency moves as new coach Wes Unseld Jr. takes charge in Washington.

Harrell opted into his contract for next season to help secure the deal.

Westbrook is playing on a five-year contract worth $206.8 million that he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It would pay him $44 million next season with Westbrook having a contract option for the following year.

© – AFP, 2021

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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