Lakers land D'Angelo Russell in three-team trade

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Los Angeles Lakershave tradedRussell Westbrookto theUtah Jazzand reacquire point guardD'Angelo Russellfrom theMinnesota Timberwolvesin a three-team, eight-player trade announced Thursday.

The Lakers also getMalik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt in the trade, while the Timberwolves will receive guardsMike ConleyandNickeil Alexander-Walker and picks.

In addition to Westbrook, the Jazz will receiveJuan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and a 2027 Lakers first-round pick that is top-four protected, sources said. If the Lakers' pick to the Jazz is not conveyed in 2027 -- if it falls in the top four -- it will convert to a 2027 second-round pick, sources told ESPN's Zach Lowe.

The additions of Russell, Beasley and Vanderbilt bolster the Lakers' core around LeBron James in a bid to jump-start their sputtering season. The Lakers fell to 25-30 on Tuesday while James set the NBA's career scoring record and sit in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference.

Russell and Beasley, in particular, should help a Lakers team that ranks 26th in 3-point field goal percentage and 27th in 3-point field goal percentage on wide-open attempts, according to Second Spectrum.

Russell, 26, is averaging 17.9 points and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 46.5% from the field, including 39.1% from 3-point range.

After a rocky start to the season combined with the loss of Karl-Anthony Towns to a calf strain in late November, Russell helped steady the ship and keep Minnesota in the mix of a competitive race in the middle of the Western Conference.

He is averaging career highs in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage this season. He is also finishing at an elite rate: His 65.4% shooting on layups and dunks ranks in the top 10 among guards (minimum 125 field goal attempts).

But with Russell heading into the final year of his deal and the continued emergence of Anthony Edwards, Minnesota decided to move in another direction.

This will be Russell's second stint with the Lakers. He was drafted No. 2 overall by the team in 2015 and played two seasons for Los Angeles before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets in June 2017.

Russell has played for five teams in eight years; he has yet to complete three seasons on the same team in his NBA career.

Beasley is a strong outside shooter, averaging 13.4 points per game while hitting 35.9% of his 3-pointers for the Jazz. The 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt has averaged 8.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, excelling on defense and on the boards while starting 41 of his 52 games.

Westbrook's tenure in Los Angeles ends less than two years after the Lakers acquired the former MVP in the hopes of vaulting the franchise back into title contention. However, injuries and a poor on-court fit among Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis led to the Lakers missing the postseason last year and have them in danger of doing the same this season.

Westbrook, 34, now moves to his fifth team in as many years after a decorated 11-year stint in Oklahoma City that saw him make eight All-NBA teams and win the MVP award in 2017.

He can still fill up the stat sheet in his 15th NBA season and is one of just six players to have at least four triple-doubles this season. But with his move to the bench, Westbrook's overall production has dipped from his career norms, averaging 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. His 41.7% shooting is in the bottom 10 among players averaging at least 12 field goal attempts per game.

Westbrook is in the final season of the five-year, maximum extension he signed with the Thunder in 2017. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Conley, 35, is one of the last remaining players from the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert era in Utah and has helped lead the Jazz to a surprising chase for the play-in.

Utah's Jordan Clarkson said it was "super hard to say goodbye" to Conley after four years together.

"That guy was like Yoda, honestly," Clarkson said. "He had so many stories, and he had such an enlightenment about him. You just listened to him. ... He can communicate with anyone."

Conley is averaging 10.7 points per game this season, the lowest since his rookie season, but also a career-high 7.7 assists.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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