Seventeen-time NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers showed an inkling of what to expect in the coming season with the signing of 34 year old guard, Patrick Beverley, from the Utah Jazz in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson.
With LeBron James committing to the Purple and Gold through at least the 2023-24 season, acquiring Beverley reiterates a focus on the big picture while still improving the roster after a disappointing year.
While Beverley adds an edge to a Lakers team that missed the postseason in 2022, the trade could be more than what meets the eye.
Patrick Beverley is returning to LA — this time, with LeBron James and the Lakers pic.twitter.com/SHY6XGLIAa— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 25, 2022
Russell Westbrook: The Elephant in the Room
It is common knowledge that the Lakers have been looking at trades involving the former MVP for some time, with a number of reports saying that potential deals hit the rocks due to the unwillingness of Lakers to include one or both of their available future first-round picks.
With Kyrie Irving off the table, it appeared plausible that the team would enter training camp with Westbrook as their starting point guard coupled with head coach Darvin Ham discussing a new offensive vision for Westbrook that involves shooting more corner 3.
However, the coming of Beverley brings to fore more questions about Westbrook’s future. In addition to the deep-seated animosity between the two men, both play the guard position, which, when accounting for the return of Kendrick Nunn, makes for a crowded Lakers backcourt.
Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook. Just cause. pic.twitter.com/bQtRCpg3Dl— SLAM (@SLAMonline) December 9, 2018
Beverley is a veritable starting point guard and will potentially add some grit to a Lakers defense that plummeted from an NBA-best in 2020-21 all the way to 21st last season.
Would Russ Get Traded?
Westbrook was one of the worst offensive players in the league last season in terms of efficiency. His 0.844 points per possession were second-to-last for any player with at least 1,000 possessions, according to Synergy Sports, but if he’s willing to accept a new role under Ham, he potentially provides a lot more dynamism and offensive firepower than Beverley.
Story making the rounds suggest if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, coach Darvin Ham would have to carve out a real role for him.
Be that as it may, the Lakers have resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him, similar to how the Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for his worst in adversary Patrick Beverley. Westbrook appeared in 78 of the Lakers’ 82 games last season.
One way or the other, it appears Russell Westbrook’s fate is sealed. The star may just not wear the Lakers jersey again. The end is imminent over a long drawn-out drama.
Pat Beverley’s arrival makes it more likely Russell Westbrook will not play with the Lakers this year, per @jovanbuha— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 25, 2022
L.A. may trade him or send him home the way the Rockets did with John Wall last season pic.twitter.com/i8hrhiHnPJ