Russell Westbrook's stint in Washington was far from a success. In an effort to get rid of John Wall's contract, the Wizards traded Wall and a first-round pick to Houston in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
The idea was to pair Westbrook with Bradley Beal, to form one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA. But that never ended up happening. The Wizards got off to a horrendous start to the 2020-21 NBA season.
Eventually, Beal's performances started improving. But it was Westbrook's improvement that allowed the team to get even better. After the All-Star break, Westbrook went on an incredible run and began putting up triple-doubles for fun.
Westbrook ended the season leading the NBA in the assists column. On top of that, he and Beal were able to take the Wizards to the NBA play-in tournament, which they were able to win to get themselves into the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the Wizards were defeated handily by the Philadelphia 76ers. And thus came to end the Westbrook-Beal partnership. As the season ended, rumors started to emerge about Bradley Beal potentially demanding a trade and leaving the Wizards.
But it ended up being Russell Westbrook who got traded. Westbrook got sent to the Lakers, and the Wizards received Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and Spencer Dinwiddie in exchange.
The Wizards have retained Beal, who has shown interest in staying in Washington and winning the right way. But if Westbrook would have had his way, Beal would also be on a new franchise.
In a recent article by The Athletic, it was revealed that Westbrook tried convincing Bradley Beal to demand a trade from Washington while he was on his way out. Beal ultimately denied the idea but gave Westbrook the all-clear to pursue a trade of his own to the Lakers, which got done in the offseason.
And before Westbrook resorted to calling Leonsis, he had tried to convince Beal in the weeks leading up to the draft that they should both ask out of Washington, according to sources. Short of Beal showing a desire to also request a trade, Westbrook was hopeful Beal would at least support his efforts to get to L.A. — which, sources said, Beal did.
Clearly, Westbrook was attempting to pull strings within the organization to secure his move. And while it all worked out for both parties, in the end, things could have been a lot worse for the Wizards if they had lost both their superstars in the offseason.
Westbrook and the Lakers will be title contenders going into the new season. As for the Wizards, they have a young core that Beal can lead. Their ambitions will be a lot lower, with the Wizards probably targeting a playoff spot during the season.