Lakers Trade Russell Westbrook to the Jazz

by Michael Gorman
Lakers Trade Russell Westbrook to the Jazz

In a three-team blockbuster deal involving the Jazz and Timberwolves, the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Damian Jones for D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley.

Mike Conley will run point for the Wolves offense that is still without a return date for Karl-Anthony Towns (knee).

The move has season-saving potential for the Lakers, helps the Jazz’ future, and will hopefully smooth things over for the Timberwolves.

Lakers Trade Russell Westbrook to the Jazz

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What will Westbrook’s future hold? What about the Jazz?

Adding Westbrook and losing Vanderbilt and Beasley represents a serious roster shakeup for the 11th-place Utah Jazz. Westbrook doesn’t fit the team’s timeline, and we’ll have to wait and see if the Jazz decides to move him.

Vanderbilt’s role decreased throughout the season as rookie shot-blocker Walker Kessler continued to impress the Utah coaches and front office. Kessler and fellow big man Kelly Olynyk now have a clear path to minutes alongside newfound star Lauri Markkanen as the only bigs on the roster.

Kessler was already worth holding due to his strong performances as of late, and this trade only cements his value. Olynyk is worth adding to see what the Utah offense will look like. Olynyk can be a top-80 player given his out-of-position strength in three-pointers, steals, assists, and FT%.

What remains to be seen is the breakdown of minutes between Westbrook and guard Collin Sexton. Clearly, the Jazz are interested in giving Sexton as much run as possible. But that’ll be hard to do if they’re going to give any minutes to the ball-dominant Westbrook.

What do the new-look Lakers look like?

Losing Russell Westbrook and adding D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley is a huge deal for the struggling Lakers. This trade solves their guard play and outside shooting, and should help tremendously on defense.

Russell looks locked in to be the Lakers' new point guard. While some might be concerned about his usage and fantasy output for the new-look Lakers, the departure of Westbrook is such a big deal. Russell will have plenty of room to get his shots in.

Mostly, Vanderbilt stands to gain from this deal. As a hustle player for the Timberwolves last year, Vandy was a valuable fantasy player for his FG%, rebounds, and defensive stats. He looks to have a path to 25 minutes per night with this Lakers team.

We’ll have to wait and see about Beasley. As a scoring boost off the bench, he would be in a similar role to what he played in Utah. He’ll have to score with more efficiency to become fantasy-relevant.

Still, the Lakers have continued to be busy at the deadline, trading Thomas Bryant to the Nuggets for Davon Reed. Bryant was a strong fill-in for Anthony Davis while Davis was hurt, but Bryant’s weakness on defense makes him unreliable as a backup center.

Relatedly, the Lakers dealt Patrick Beverley to the Magic in exchange for Mo Bamba. The deal opens up more room in the Lakers’ guard rotation for Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder, and Lonnie Walker. Only Reaves would be worth watching for the time being - he can rack up three-pointers and steals with enough minutes.

Bamba will have limited minutes behind Davis at the center position and could be fantasy relevant for games that Davis rests. Bamba can rack up three-pointers and blocks, and has proven to have a fantasy-friendly game.

What about the Timberwolves?

This deal doesn’t move the needle for the Wolves very much. If anything, Mike Conley will help smooth out the edges of this offense. His veteran leadership will be huge for a struggling locker room and should help Rudy Gobert offensively.

Further, given that Conley doesn’t demand as much usage as D’Angelo Russell (17.0 versus 23.1 this season, respectively), even more room should be open for Anthony Edwards and Jaylen Nowell on the offensive end. Nowell just scored 30 points the other night, showing his scoring potential.

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