Sometimes the NBA just feels like one wild reality TV show, and it sure felt like it this past week when the Los Angeles Lakers announced they were trading for veteran defensive specialist Patrick Beverley in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson who will be headed to Utah. Now, at face value, this trade seems pretty simplistic. The Lakers get much needed defense at the PG spot as well as veteran leadership while also clearing Horton-Tucker’s contract from their books next offseason. However, if you’ve been around the NBA the past few years, you know there’s a bigger storyline to this. That story line is current Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and his rivalry with Beverley. So, let’s dig into what this trade means for Westbrook and his future, or maybe lack thereof, with the Lakers.
It is no secret that the Lakers have been shopping Westbrook to virtually the entire league all summer long. His ginormous contract simply does not match his production and he is not a good fit alongside the Lakers dynamic duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, after reports that the market for Kyrie Irving was officially closed, many fans thought Westbrook would still be a Laker come opening night. That is until this trade happened. Immediately, fans on Twitter made their jokes about Beverley and Westbrook being on the same team given their rivalry that sparked in 2013 when Beverley, seemingly intentionally, took out Westbrook’s leg in the playoffs and ended his season. It’s obvious that these two on the same team won’t work. Surely, the Lakers understand that. So, why trade for Beverley? The answer is simple, Westbrook is the odd man out. A few hours after the trade was announced, new reports started circulating that the Lakers are heavily looking to the Indiana Pacers and the Utah Jazz to be a trade partner for Westbrook. To sum things up, the Lakers are offering to both teams Russell Westbrook and the teams 2027 first round pick (and possibly a 2029 first round pick if they feel the trade makes them a contender). In exchange, the Lakers are looking for either sharpshooter Buddy Hield and rim protector Myles Turner from the Pacers, or Mike Conley and stretch four Bojan Bogdanovich from the Jazz. There is also the possibility that the Knicks get involved if they can acquire Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz, in which case the Lakers could get another shooter such as Evan Fournier, but it seems we are a long way away from that. Now, there is always the small chance that the original Beverley trade is expanded and neither he nor Westbrook suits up for the Lakers this season, but there are no signs that point to that. Beverley is a competitor and a fighter, traits the Lakers heavily lacked last season. Surely they would not give up two solid young pieces just to ship him off. But, you never know in the NBA.
By acquiring Patrick Beverley, the Lakers have opened a whole new can of worms for the league to see. But, most importantly, they showed their cards and seemed to confirm that their ideal scenario on opening night is not to have Russell Westbrook on the roster. Their return for Russ could make or break their season, and we will have to see in this next month and a half if they can pull something off to make the roster a championship caliber one.