Wizards GM explains why he traded Westbrook to Lakers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
By now it’s clear the Wizards did not enter this offseason with plans to trade Russell Westbrook. A chance to play for his hometown team, the Lakers, came up and the Wizards acted quickly to grant his wish.
Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard confirmed that was the case on Friday in an offseason press conference and explained how the timeline of events transpired in the days leading up to the trade in July.
«That was a very, very unusual circumstance where the day before the draft we were kind of spitballing some ideas and getting some input. I had a heart-to-heart with Russell and it was important to him that I knew and the Wizards knew he wants to play here,» Sheppard said.
«If there was ever an opportunity with the Lakers, that would be the one place. I look at his Hall of Fame career and all he did for us, certainly, for me, I will try to help a guy as long as it helps the Wizards. In this case, we could do a deal and it did help the Wizards.»
Westbrook played one season in Washington after coming over in a trade with the Rockets last December. He helped lead the Wizards to their first playoff appearance in three years.
But Westbrook is now off to another team yet again, this time to join up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers. Westbrook is playing in the city where he’s from and has a chance to win the championship which has eluded him so far in his illustrious NBA career.
The Wizards feel they made the most of the situation with what they got in return. They received Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and a first round pick in what ended up being part of a much larger package in a five-team deal.
Sheppard is pleased with what he got for Westbrook.
«If that deal didn’t go through, Russ would still be playing for us and we would all be happy. That opportunity presented itself and it was a great deal for both sides and it made a lot of sense for both of us. I wish him the very best,» Sheppard said.
In addition to getting multiple players back for Westbrook, the Wizards also gained a level of salary cap flexibility they haven’t enjoyed for years. They didn’t receive a player of Westbrook’s caliber, but seem to have a better foundation to build the roster moving forward.
Now it’s up to Sheppard to make the most of it.