The Washington Wizards have been reluctant to trade star Bradley Beal. The same apparently can’t be said about Russell Westbrook.
Multiple reports indicated Thursday that the Wizards are close to completing a deal to send Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for forward Kyle Kuzma, center Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 first-rounder.
The deal would put Westbrook back in his hometown just one season after the Wizards acquired him for point guard John Wall. The Wizards finished below .500 (34-38), but Westbrook was praised for his leadership during his short tenure. He averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game last season — breaking Oscar Robertson’s all-time triple-double record in the process.
For the Wizards, the move would create some financial flexibility to build around Beal as Westbrook was set to make $44.2 million next season and held a $47.1 million player option for 2022-23. Kuzma is under contract until at least 2023, but only makes $13 million per season — while Harrell’s $9.7 million contract expires next season. Caldwell-Pope can be waived after 2021-22 for a $4.9 million cap hit.
Perhaps more importantly, all three contracts are tradable — giving Washington the ability to reshuffle the roster more in the near future.
Reports of the trade, which has yet to be completed, emerged just hours before Thursday’s NBA draft and on the same day that the Washington Nationals were reportedly closing in on…