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#pounditFriday, October 7, 2022

Lakers GM hints at why team chose Russell Westbrook over Buddy Hield

Russell Westbrook warming up

The Los Angeles Lakers’ decision to go with Russell Westbrook over Buddy Hield could end up being a franchise-altering move. Now Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is hinting at what went into their thought process.

In the latest episode of Spectrum SportsNet’s “Backstage Lakers” this week, Pelinka touched on the team’s acquisition of Westbrook over the summer.

“I think in kind of building the roster in the offseason, obviously, we made a big trade for Russell Westbrook to get another playmaker,” said Pelinka. “We knew that as LeBron [James] journeyed towards Year 19 in the league and then Year 20, we couldn’t rely on him as the sole engine for our team. So we made that trade, really wanted to dimensionalize the roster with a combination of versatility, guys that can shoot, and defenders.”

The Lakers reportedly came close to acquiring Hield from the Sacramento Kings in July. But when the Washington Wizards made Westbrook available for trade, the Lakers pivoted to him instead, surprising even the players who were involved in the trade.

Westbrook is an elite playmaker and is among the league leaders in assists this year with 8.3 of them a game. But he is also a poor three-point shooter who cramps spacing when he shares the floor with James, especially with a traditional big man on the court. Hield only averages 2.4 assists a game for his career, but he makes up for it with his scalding 40.3 career three-point percentage. Only time will tell if the Lakers picked the right skillset of the two to pair with James and Co.

Photo: Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook prior to the preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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