The Lakers, Jazz and Wolves orchestrated a three-way deal at the deadline that sent Russell Westbrook to Utah, Mike Conley to Minnesota and D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Los Angeles.
Rivers compared the trade to the deal that the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings made last season that swapped Domantas Sabonis and Tyrese Haliburton. Both players have thrived in their new settings, making the deal a win for both sides.
The key, Rivers believes, will be the fit that Conley has with the roster in Minnesota. However, the Wolves guard made a point of giving Russell credit as well.
Austin Rivers on why he thinks the Mike Conley addition will make KAT's eventual reintegration "clean" — and why he thinks the Conley-for-Russell swap could play out like the Haliburton-for-Sabonis swap a year ago. pic.twitter.com/n6m5hPaWu4
— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) February 15, 2023
Minnesota already has two elite scorers in Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns (when healthy), so the team could use a distributor like Conley to help the offense flow better.
For the Lakers, Russell gives the team some much-needed outside shooting and creation from the point guard position. Westbrook struggled with his 3-point shot in the 2022-23 season, so Russell (38.7 percent from 3 this season) is a nice upgrade in that regard.
The Lakers also lacked depth around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, so adding proven role players like Beasley (another good shooter) and Vanderbilt (a versatile rebounder and defender) gives Los Angeles some options to switch up some lineups.
For the Jazz side of things, Utah was able to net more draft capital to help its rebuild after it traded away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert this past offseason.
Rivers clearly believes that both Russell and Conley are good players, but they may be in better spots to succeed now with their new teams.
The Lakers are hoping that Russell can help bring them out of the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference so they can at least make the play-in tournament this season.
As for Minnesota, it is looking to build on last season when it earned the No. 7 spot in the West. Right now, the Wolves are ahead of the Lakers in the standings, but there is a chance the two teams could meet in the play-in tournament later on this season.