Lakers trading Russell Westbrook in massive three-team deal with Jazz and Timberwolves

First-year Lakers coach Darvin Ham moved Westbrook to the bench and that staggered the minutes James, Davis and Westbrook were on the court together and freed up Westbrook to play his style. It worked to some degree but not enough to lift the Lakers into solid playoff position.

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Los Angeles explored trades for Westbrook before and during this season but were unable to move him until this deal. Westbrook, who is in the final year of a five-year, $206.7 million contract that pays him $47 million this season, averages 15.9 points, 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds and is shooting 41.7% from the field and 29.6% on 3-pointers.

Russell returns to the Lakers, the team that drafted him with the No. 2 pick in 2015. The Lakers traded him to Brooklyn after just two seasons, and the Nets dealt him to Golden State as part of the deal that allowed the Nets to sign Kevin Durant. Russell was on the move again in 2020 when Golden State traded him to Minnesota in the deal that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors.

Russell is in the final year of a four-year, $117.3 million contract so the Lakers can retain salary cap space for free agency after this season.

The Lakers are desperate for help. James just passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Conley has one season left on his contract, but just $14.3 million of the $24.3 million is guaranteed for the 2023-24 season. The Jazz continue to rebuild the roster with team CEO Danny Ainge running basketball operations with general manager Justin Zanik.

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lakers trading Russell Westbrook in massive three-team deal with Jazz and Timberwolves

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