There’s been plenty reported about the Lakers initial trade for Russell Westbrook and how quickly they shifted from a Buddy Hield trade with the Kings to the deal with the Wizards. By basically all accounts, the players involved in the deal expected to go to the Kings before a change out of nowhere.
What we haven’t known about is just how absurd and abrupt the whole situation was. On Thursday, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus joined Seth Partnow on the Callin Shots podcast and discussed trade negotiations within the NBA. In discussing that the Lakers are still very early in the process of negotiating any deals, he dropped a fascinating anecdote.
“Now, maybe another opportunity comes along that pulls you away from this player. And certainly the Lakers have a track record of that with a negotiation with Buddy Hield on the finish line, where they told the Kings apparently that ‘we have a deal, we just need Trezz to opt in,’ and this kind of feeds into what you’re talking about, where they had the delay, they couldn’t just say ‘yes’ because they had to wait for a clerical thing for a player to just send paperwork to the league, and in that window, they ended up doing the Russ deal.”
It speaks to how uncertain the Lakers were about which deal to complete that they could be swayed so easily in the literal minutes between telling Harrell to opt-in and the league getting the paperwork. What could have possibly changed in those few minutes to make them switch so suddenly?
And are people really still using fax machines? This negotiation would have taken place in 2021 and, to be honest, that’s about 20 years past the point I thought people stopped using fax machines.
Getting back on point, though, it’s just super odd that the front office was still so unconvinced of the deal that they would back out last second. And they backed out to accept a deal they didn’t even accept initially. All in all, it’s just a rough look for the Lakers front office that seems to be largely in the service of collecting Ls in recent seasons.