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Lakers trading Russell Westbrook in giant three-team deal

The Los Angeles Lakers have reached a deal to trade guard Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz and acquire guard D’Angelo Russell from Minnesota in a three-team deal that also includes Utah sending guard Mike Conley to the Timberwolves, a person familiar with the deal told USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is official. 

The Lakers will also get Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt from Utah. Minnesota also will receive Nickeil Alexander-Walker and picks, and the Jazz will get Juan Toscano-Anderson and a first-round draft pick from the Lakers. 

Westbrook may seek a buyout from the Jazz so he can join a potential contender.

The Westbrook experiment never quite yielded the results the Lakers sought when they acquired him from Washington in the summer of 2021. He wasn’t a fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers missing the playoffs last season, resulting in coach Frank Vogel’s dismissal, and the Lakers are just 25-30 and in 13th place in the Western Conference this season.

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Even under .500, the Lakers are two games behind the Jazz for a play-in spot and four games behind sixth-place Dallas, which just acquired Kyrie Irving from the Nets.

First-year Lakers coach Darvin Ham moved Westbrook to the bench and that staggered the minutes James, Davis and Westbrook were on the court together and freed up Westbrook to play his style. It worked to some degree but not enough to lift the Lakers into solid playoff position.

Los Angeles explored trades for Westbrook before and during this season but were unable to move him until this deal. Westbrook, who is in the final year of a five-year, $206.7 million contract that pays him $47 million this season, averages 15.9 points, 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds and is shooting 41.7% from the field and 29.6% on 3-pointers.

Russell returns to the Lakers, the team that drafted him with the No. 2 pick in 2015. The Lakers traded him to Brooklyn after just two seasons, and the Nets dealt him to Golden State as part of the deal that allowed the Nets to sign Kevin Durant. Russell was on the move again in 2020 when Golden State traded him to Minnesota in the deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors.

Russell is in the final year of a four-year, $117.3 million contract so the Lakers can retain salary cap space for free agency after this season. An All-Star in 2019, Russell averages 17.9 points and 6.2 assists and shoots 46.5% from the field and 39.1% on 3-pointers this season. He is talentet, but he has been shuttled from one team to another in an eight-year career.

The Lakers are desperate for help. James just passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Conley has one season left on his contract, but just $14.3 million of the $24.3 million is guaranteed for the 2023-24 season. The Jazz continue to rebuild the roster with team CEO Danny Ainge running basketball operations alongside general manager Justin Zanik. Since July, the Jazz have accumulated 12 first-round picks in trades.

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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