Report: Westbrook was open to staying with Wizards before trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Los Angeles Lakers, once again, shook up the landscape of the NBA last week when they traded for Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and a first-round pick.
Westbrook, who starred in his one season with Washington and averaged another triple-double, was reportedly open to running it back with the Wizards and alongside star guard Bradley Beal once again next season, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne.
However, when the opportunity presented himself to be traded to LA and contend for a championship, the 32-year-old felt it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
"Sources indicate Westbrook and [his agent Thad] Foucher called the Wizards to say that he was happy to play in Washington another two seasons, but if there was a trade with the Lakers that made sense for both franchises, he would welcome the chance to compete for a championship in his hometown," Shelbourne wrote.
Additionally, ESPN reported that Westbrook was in constant conversation with Beal about their future together in Washington, as both players mulled their next steps.
"Westbrook had been in close communication with Beal since the season ended, as both weighed their basketball futures in D.C., sources said," Shelbourne wrote. "They'd enjoyed playing together last season and felt some optimism that a second would be more successful than their opening-round playoff exit. But both also had concerns about the ability of the team, as currently constructed, to compete at the highest level."
Beal, who has not requested a trade from Washington, remains loyal and committed to Washington, the only franchise he's ever played. The three-time All-Star has one year remaining on his current deal and is eligible for the highest-possible max-salary extension next offseason as a 10-year veteran.
Westbrook had previously tried to formulate a trade to Los Angeles two summers ago, according to Shelbourne, and reached out to then-free agent Kawhi Leonard about possibly teaming up. Leonard then reached out to Westbrook's then-Thunder teammates, Paul George, about them two teaming up in LA instead.
Leonard and George ultimately ended up with the Clippers days later, while Westbrook was later traded to Houston in exchange for James Harden. Westbrook was then traded to Washington right before training camp in 2020, as he expressed his desire to leave the Rockets after Harden was mulling his future with the team as well.
Now, two years later, Westbrook is in Los Angeles alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, ready to compete for a championship ring -- the only thing missing from his decorated résumé.