The trade where the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards for Montrezl Harrel, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious-Caldwell Pope will be looked back on for years as one of the biggest flop trades in NBA history.
The Lakers sent away their competitive playoff core for a flier on the most expensive contract in the NBA after the player was past his MVP prime. The results have not been fun to watch, as the Lakers stand at risk of not even making the play-in tournament this season.
The Lakers were trying to shop Westbrook in the summer, and they will definitely try the same again in the off-season. However, the decision to acquire him was dubious from the start, as noted by Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
With $76.5 million already invested in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers gave up Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and a first-round pick to acquire one of the most expensive players in the NBA... At the time of the deal, many competing executives were perplexed. If the Lakers' high-end talent didn't overwhelm the league, the team had given up significant depth and flexibility for a risky "maybe."
The Lakers' philosophy of roster construction was never going to be sustainable. Ever since the trade for Anthony Davis initially decimated the Lakers' depth, they re-tooled around their core with veterans and saw a championship as the end product of that. However, the same tinkering didn't help them in 2021, as they made the roster objectively worse en route to a first-round exit.
This season, the Lakers' further ruined their depth for Russell Westbrook. The decision has not paid off and the team is paying the price for it. However, it isn't just Westbrook, but a culmination of issues that stretch back to the front office of the team.