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LeBron James's new sidekick? Lakers are 'nearing trade for Westbrook' ahead of NBA Draft

The Detroit Pistons are on the clock with the first pick in tonight's draft in Brooklyn, but the biggest NBA news of the night belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, who are reportedly nearing trade to add former MVP Russell Westbrook to fellow stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic's Shams Charania are both reporting that the Lakers are in talks with the Washington Wizards to trade for Westbrook, who would return to his native Los Angeles to play for his fourth team in four seasons.

Sources told ESPN that the Lakers would send Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a 2021 draft pick in the proposed trade.

The Detroit Pistons are on the clock with the first pick in tonight's draft in Brooklyn, but the biggest NBA news of the night belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, who are reportedly nearing trade to add former MVP Russell Westbrook (right) to a cast that includes LeBron James (left)

After winning the franchise's 17th league title inside the NBA bubble in 2020, the Lakers suffered a first-round defeat to the eventual Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns in the playoffs this year largely due to injuries to Davis and James.

The Lakers were also criticized for a lack of backcourt depth, with Westbrook, a former UCLA star, would certainly address.

Los Angeles was previously had reported interest in trading Kuzma for the Sacramento Kings' Buddy Hield, but that deal would no longer be possible if the Lakers complete the acquisition of Westbrook.

As for the NBA Draft, Oklahoma's Cade Cunningham is expected to g first overall to the Pistons.

Cade Cunningham spent years honing his game for a shot at becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft.

The Oklahoma State one-and-done star could accomplish that goal Thursday night as the headliner of a class that includes scorers, playmakers and potentially elite defenders at the top.

'I've been saying for a long time,' Cunningham said, 'we have one of the best classes in a long time. And I'm really appreciative of the fact that we've all been pushing each other throughout us coming through high school and things like that.'

Only time will tell how deep the class really is.

But Cunningham won't be have to wait long Thursday night. His is expected to be the first name called when the Detroit Pistons open the draft in New York, while the rest of the top tier comes from Cunningham's same 2020 high school recruiting class.

There's Southern California big man Evan Mobley, the draft's top big man who helped the Trojans make their deepest NCAA Tournament push in two decades. Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs helped the Bulldogs carry an unbeaten record into the national-title game. Florida State's Scottie Barnes is a playmaking forward capable of locking down smaller guards.

And there are preps-to-pros prospects in guard Jalen Green and forward Jonathan Kuminga, with each bypassing college basketball to play in the G League.

'Our talent on the floor speaks for itself,' said Suggs, a former star football player who was named Mr. Football in Minnesota. 'But off the floor and in locker rooms, we're guys who lead and guys who you want in your locker room.'

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas said depth at the top of this draft was the best since 2003, which produced perennial All-Stars James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the first five picks.

'Look, having LeBron in a draft was certainly better,' said Bilas, a former Duke player. 'Zion (Williamson in 2019) made it more interesting that year. But none of the drafts that I can remember since 2003 have combined power at the top and depth of really good talent like this.'

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