The Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz finalized a deal involving PG Russell Westbrook, G D’Angelo Russell, and G Mike Conley Jr. Here we’ll go over grades for each team involved in the deal. Below are details and how the whole deal shakes out.
Lakers get: D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt
Timberwolves get: Mike Conley Jr, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, second-round pick
Jazz get: Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, first-round pick
The Lakers were able to get out from under Westbrook’s contract and add three rotation players that can help a playoff push. It likely isn’t enough to get the Lakers to the NBA Finals but they do still have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a ton of depth. So who knows? Either way, Los Angeles is better positioned to get out of the bottom of the playoff picture and into the play-in tournament, where they’d have a decent shot at making it out.
D’Lo is also on an expiring contract, so his salary clears some cap heading into the offseason. Both Beasley and Vanderbilt are signed through next season, but that would also clear even more space before James and AD have player options for 2024-25. So the Lakers can get a clean slate heading into that offseason if LeBron moves on and AD leaves in free agency. Other than LeBron and AD, the Lakers have no one signed past this season, which could help the team retool and go after one last title with the duo.
The Jazz are throwing in the flag and get another first-round pick. Utah was expected to tank but are actually in the play-in picture as of now. The Jazz can now look to throwing more games in an attempt to tank and get better draft position for 2023. The pick Utah gets from the Lakers in 2027 is protected 1-4, which is a very nice deal. The Lakers could be pretty bad by then assuming LeBron is retired and AD isn’t on the team. But if they’re somewhere in the middle of the lottery, that pick has a good chance of going to the Jazz.
Utah also gets out of Vanderbilt, Conley and Beasley’s salaries for this upcoming offseason and Westbrook will be off the books after this season. So the Jazz will have a ton of cap space to play around with and a ton of draft capital. Even better, reports are saying Westbrook will reach a buyout with Utah. So the Jazz don’t even have to deal with Russ the rest of the season.
The Timberwolves remain in NBA purgatory. They keep making perplexing moves and this was sort of just an inevitable step. Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert are signed for way too long and you aren’t winning with those two on the court at the same time. Anthony Edwards is still on his rookie deal but that’s all but wasted. After that, Edwards will get a big pay raise or force a trade/get offer sheeted.
The only thing this trade does for Minnesota is get a second-rounder. D’Lo was coming off the books after this season anyway. You’ve also got to eat next year on Conley’s contract and NAW is kind of a lost cause at this point. So the T-Wolves will prob head toward the play-in tournament, lose themselves some draft position and fail to compete in the postseason.