Russell Westbrook is preparing for life on a fourth different team in as many years, with LeBron James welcoming his new running mate to the Los Angeles Lakers following a blockbuster trade.

The Lakers overshadowed the NBA Draft by completing a deal to get Westbrook from the Washington Wizards, who receive Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in return.

The Wizards also got the 22nd pick in Thursday's first round – Isaiah Jackson was taken at that slot, then traded to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for point guard Aaron Holiday – while the Lakers gained two second-round selections in future drafts, according to reports.

For Westbrook, it means yet another fresh start. The 32-year-old ended his long association with the Oklahoma City Thunder when reuniting with James Harden at the Houston Rockets in 2019, only to then leave for Washington a year later.

Despite only spending one season with the Wizards, Westbrook declared his appreciation for all connected with the franchise in an Instagram post after news of the deal had emerged.

"Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one," he wrote.

"Everyone from the front office to the training staff, the coaches, my team-mates, and the fans. I’m grateful y'all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way.

"I'm blessed to have been a part of such a stand-up organisation. It didn't take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organisation. Thank you."

LeBron, meanwhile, used his Instagram account to put up a picture of himself and fellow Lakers star Anthony Davis standing either side of the team's latest recruit, along with the caption "Brodie", which is Westbrook's nickname.

The addition is a move aimed at getting the 2019-20 NBA champions back into contention. The title defence did not go to plan last term, long-term injuries to their two stars leading to a struggle just to make the postseason. While they did qualify, the holders were knocked out in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

As for Westbrook, his year with the Wizards included a key role in a late charge to make the playoffs via the play-in tournament, though they were beaten 4-1 in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers, after which it was announced head coach Scott Brooks would be leaving his role.

Westbrook had broken an NBA record that had stood for 47 years during the regular season, moving beyond Oscar Robertson to top the list for career triple-double games.

He led the league for assists with 11.7 per game, as well as shooting 31.5 per cent from three-point range - his best return from deep sine the 2016-17 season. It will be fascinating to see how he fits into the Lakers' current roster, though it remains to be seen if they are finished making offseason moves just yet, considering free agency is around the corner.

There was speculation L.A. were also in negotiations to bring in Buddy Hield from the Sacramento Kings. The 28-year-old would add some much-needed outside scoring, seen as he is a career 40.6 per cent shooter from deep.

The Lakers finished at 35.4 per cent as a team from three-point range, ranking them 21st in the entire league. Caldwell-Pope was one of their more successful players when it came to taking aim from distance, finishing up at 41.0 per cent, but he has been moved on in order to add a new playmaking presence.

Westbrook, who is from California and played at UCLA during his college career, will earn $44.2million in 2021-22, then has a player option worth $47m for the following year.

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to add another former MVP, as several media outlets reported they will acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in a draft-night blockbuster. 

In return for Westbrook and second-round picks in 2024 and 2028, the Lakers reportedly are sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the 22nd overall pick in Thursday's draft to Washington. 

While the deal cannot be officially completed until August 6, when the salary cap for next season is set, commissioner Adam Silver announced the portion involving the draft pick from the podium on Thursday. 

With the 22nd pick that was part of the trade, the Lakers selected Isaiah Jackson from Kentucky and sent him to Indiana as part of a separate deal between the Indiana Pacers and Wizards that reportedly will net Washington Aaron Holiday and the number 31 pick.

But Los Angeles native and former UCLA star Westbrook was the man everyone was talking about on Thursday. 

After one season with Washington, Westbrook will head west to join LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers as they try to bounce back from a first-round playoff loss a year after winning the NBA title. 

The move will cost LA, who will owe their new star trio a combined $121million next season. 

But the Lakers will be hoping for big things from the nine-time All-Star Westbrook, who was the league's MVP in 2016-17 while playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and turns 33 in November. 

Westbrook averaged 22.2 points and a career-high 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds in 65 regular-season games last season, recording triple-doubles in 38 of them.

Along the way, he broke Oscar Robertson's long-standing record of 181 career triple-doubles, finishing the season with 184. 

From Washington's perspective, moving on from Westbrook frees up money to keep Bradley Beal as the team's centerpiece moving forward as he enters the final year of his contract. 

The Wizards also added some supporting pieces in the deal, as Harrell averaged 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Lakers last season, while Kuzma contributed 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and Caldwell-Pope 9.7 points. 

 

 

 

Frank Vogel offered his injury-hit Los Angeles Lakers "no excuses" as they were blown out by the Los Angeles Clippers without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

James is out with a high ankle sprain, while a calf issue continues to keep Davis sidelined.

With new signing Andre Drummond then also ruled out due to a toe injury on his Lakers debut, Vogel was short-handed heading into Sunday's meeting with the Clippers.

But the title-winning head coach still was not impressed by what he saw in a 104-86 loss.

Montrezl Harrell, a former Clipper, led the Lakers in scoring with 19 points, but only fellow center Marc Gasol, who played fewer than 18 minutes, reached double-figures among the starting five.

The reigning NBA champions shot a disappointing 40 per cent from the field, their joint-second worst mark of the season.

Vogel said the Lakers would have to "improve with our offensive execution" and did not accept the injuries to James and Davis as mitigating factors.

"There's no excuses here," he added. "The guys that are playing have what it takes to get the job done, it's that simple."

The team's 86 points were a season low, yet it was also the fifth time in eight games – going back to the meeting with the Atlanta Hawks in which James went down – they have failed to reach 100.

Forward Kyle Kuzma, who had six points on awful two-for-10 shooting, said: "Defensively, we'll be all right. We'll compete, challenge most opponents.

"But offensively, we've got to find ways to play together and put points on the board. You can't win games scoring in the 80s and 90s."

LeBron James has praised the continued development of Kyle Kuzma following his starring role in the Los Angeles Lakers' hard-fought victory over the Indiana Pacers. 

The defending NBA champions returned to action after the All-Star break on Friday, though they were made to work for the win by a Pacers team that led by 12 at one stage in the fourth quarter.

However, Kuzma led an impressive rally with his team in trouble, scoring 15 of his 24 points in the final quarter as the Lakers - again without the injured Anthony Davis - eventually triumphed by a 105-100 scoreline.

James had 18 points but was happy to defer to the hot hand, leading to 10 assists. After the game, the four-time MVP pointed to how his long-time team-mate has continued to get better, year on year.

"It's all about growth. The game has just slowed down every year for him. I've been with him for the past three years and the game has just slowed down," James told the media.

"He knows his role with this team - and he does it to a high level. Tonight was another example of that."

He added: "Tonight, he had it going. We continue to find the hot hand, so I wanted to continue to get him the ball so he could continue to make plays.  

"That's the growth of him, knowing that some games are going to be different. It's not always going to be high-scoring nights, but he is still able to make an impact – especially on the glass, with his energy and effort. 

"But we need him to make shots, especially in the absence of AD [Davis]."

Kuzma also contributed 13 rebounds as the Lakers played a 10th successive game without Davis, who is expected to be out for at least another two weeks due to a leg injury.

Center Marc Gasol is also sidelined, with James insisting it is now down to the rest of the roster to step up in the absence of the two big men.

Montrezl Harrell certainly helped out against the Pacers, contributing 17 points and six rebounds as he played 32 minutes off the bench.

"It's a collective group, a collective effort in the front court," James said. "Starting with DJ [Damian Jones], 'Trez' [Harrell] coming off the bench smooth, myself, Kyle, it's a collective group.

"We all have to put our hard hats on in the absence of Marc and AD, play bigger than our size. It's going to be a collective effort from all of us. We all have to step up."

Russell Westbrook believes the Washington Wizards sticking together prevented the team from coming apart after an awful start to the NBA season. 

The Wizards continued their revival as they earned a 127-124 overtime win against defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. 

They trailed by 17 points in the second half but rallied impressively, with Westbrook racking up 32 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. 

The Wizards have now won five straight games, having previously not even put together a run of four consecutive victories since February 2018. 

Wins against the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Lakers have turned the season around. 

The Wizards started 6-17 in Westbrook's first year since his trade from the Rockets, but they are now surging ahead of another huge test at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. 

"It has been tough, but we have been sticking together," Westbrook said, per ESPN, amid the team's best run in three years. 

"That's the main thing. If you get caught up with everything else going on, teams and players tend to come apart. 

"But we have been sticking together and communicating on how to become a better team, and it's been paying off for us."

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal also shone with 33 points, including six on three straight possessions during a pivotal spell in overtime. 

"It feels different, in a great way," he said. "It feels great, but at the same time, we still haven't done a damn thing. 

"We realise that, and we keep telling each other that. 

"We've still got bad habits we need to break, but we don't discount what we did." 

LeBron James had 31 points for the Lakers, who have now lost four of their last five, with Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder out injured. 

"It takes a whole team to collectively get wins, and right now we have two of our main rotation guys out," Kyle Kuzma said after registering 14 points in the loss. 

"Obviously there are no excuses. You don't want to lose to an under-.500 team like that, but this is the NBA and anybody can win. We just have to figure it out." 

LeBron James showed in the Los Angeles Lakers' latest overtime win against the Oklahoma City Thunder why he is likely to win this season's MVP award, according to head coach Frank Vogel.

The Lakers claimed a second straight overtime victory against the Thunder on Wednesday, having needed two additional five-minute periods to get past the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

It was the first time in franchise history the Lakers won three straight overtime games, with the last NBA team to achieve the feat being the Minnesota Timberwolves in January 2007.

James played at least 40 minutes in all three – he last played that much in three successive games in January 2017 – and became the first player aged 35 or older in NBA history to do that in a trio of consecutive overtime triumphs.

Despite his increased time on the floor, the four-time MVP showed no noticeable dip in production. In a total of 130 minutes across the three wins he had 86 points, 30 assists, 25 rebounds and eight steals. The last NBA player to reach those numbers over a three-win span in the regular season was Michael Jordan in January 1989.

The Lakers were without Anthony Davis for a second straight game and Vogel felt the leadership LeBron displayed offensively and defensively was evidence of why he is a frontrunner for the MVP award.

Asked if he was concerned by the minutes James had racked up, Vogel replied: "Of course, there's always concern but his body's been feeling good.

"These aren't scripted plans to go to overtime each night and get him up to 40 minutes, but he's gonna be there in those situations to win the game.

"We'll continue evaluating how he's feeling, his workload on a day-by-day basis and make decisions on a game-by-game basis.

"He made several defensive plays to be honest with you, he's really leading the charge taking a matchup of [Al] Horford on certain situations. That's what Bron does. Bron does it on both sides of the ball.

"That's why he's probably going to be this year's MVP; carrying the load offensively and quarterbacking the number one defense in the league and taking these tough assignments and making the plays down the stretch, so he's played terrific."

Vogel joked that James was getting rest after the game by being excused from media duty.

He added: "These are the toughest games to play, when you have a sub-.500 team that comes in with guys out. Everybody on their team is getting an opportunity. You've got an opportunity to be the go-to guy. We've seen that with a few different games.

"We've certainly got to be better, we're not making things easy on ourselves but at the end of the day we're doing enough to grind things out in the second half and do what we need to do to get that W. Happy to get three wins but certainly got to be better.

"We're not worried about being tired. We're a no excuse team."

Kyle Kuzma praised James mentality after he contributed 25 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals in the 114-113 success over the Thunder.

"You've heard it from him: being tired is just in your head," said Kuzma, who contributed 15 points and nine rebounds.

"If you put your mind to it, you don't really see yourself getting too tired and that's always been his mindset through his unbelievable career. That dude's a beast. If he says he's not tired, doesn't get tired, [then] he doesn't get tired."

LeBron James revealed the Los Angeles Lakers are having to learn on the fly during the regular season after the defending NBA champions slipped to a second successive defeat.

Without Anthony Davis, who did not play due to injury, and off the back of a narrow loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers made a strong start but faded badly at the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.

James made his first seven shots but had just two points in the second half, the Pistons running out comfortable winners by a 107-92 scoreline for just their fifth victory of the campaign.

For the four-time NBA MVP, however, it is all about the bigger picture, rather than one-off results. With limited practice time available to teams due to the altered schedule amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and a number of new faces having joined during the offseason, the Lakers are having to experiment during games.

"We are all learning on the fly due to the lack of practice time," James said.

"You know with this season it's very difficult to get those practice minutes on the floor and know what does and doesn't work. It's very strange with that.

"We are definitely all adjusting to playing with different line-ups and logging minutes with line-ups that in one game you may not have played with, then it could be [the case] for a few games in a row.

"A lot of our games are also big practices for us too, we have to learn on the fly and coach is still learning different line-ups, which combinations work.

"Myself, I'm out here with certain line-ups I do play with, certain ones I don't. It's all a learning experience and trying to figure things out."

James, who finished with 22 points and 10 assists, insisted his second-half output was not due to tiredness. Far from it, in fact.

"I don't feel tired. I get my sleep, I get my rest. I have a lot of energy, I don't get tired," said the 36-year-old, who revealed during his post-game press conference that he likes to watch shows and drink a glass of wine to relax.

"My mindset never gets to the point where it's a long road trip and I'm exhausted and tired, I don't even think about that. When we have our games, I'm ready to go.

"When we're not playing, I have an opportunity to rest, get my body back right and my mind refreshed. I don't get tired."

Kyle Kuzma also had 22 points for the Lakers, while Blake Griffin led the way for Detroit with 23.

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