Damian Lillard, LeBron James Lakers Blazers
Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Russell Westbrook reportedly was not the first option for the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason. There were two superstars that the 17-time NBA champions wanted to get more.

Those players were Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal. Coincidently, both of them remained with their current teams, the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards where they spent their entire NBA careers.

It was not a simple operation. The Lakers reportedly had their superstar LeBron James setting up a ‘war room’ in his estate for recruiting Lillard and Beal. The four-time NBA champion held in-person conversations with players as well as had calls with them.

When it became apparent that it is impossible to get either Lillard or Beal, the Lakers shifted their focus on Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan, Buddy Hield and Kyle Lowry. In the end, it was the 32-year-old former NBA MVP that joined James and Davis in LA form the Big Three.

Per Bill Oram, Shams Charania, Sam Amick of The Athletic:

“In the two months that followed their first-round playoff flop against Phoenix, when Davis’ groin injury left them pulling up lame, the Lakers explored the prospect of trading for such stars as Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook. The process unfolded well beyond the team’s front office’s search, with James setting up a war room of his own at his Brentwood estate for some in-person player meetings while leading remote communications in other conversations.

“The group focused first on Lillard and Beal, but with no viable path to trading for either of them, turned their attention to more realistic targets: Westbrook, DeRozan, Hield and Kyle Lowry, who would eventually pursue a deal with the Miami Heat instead.”