Blockbuster Lakers Russell Westbrook Trade

So what happened? Should we be surprised by the quick about-face?

And what happens next, specifically for the Lakers, who add a third star to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis but lose valuable depth in doing so?

Per NBA sources, the Lakers went into the offseason with a clear Plan A: unrealistic hopes of landing a Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. Plan B was Chris Paul (but then the Phoenix Suns advanced to the NBA Finals) and Westbrook. Hield was always Plan C.

Over the past few weeks, the Lakers pursued Westbrook and Hield in parallel conversations with the Wizards and Sacramento Kings. As the draft neared, the Wizards seemed content to wait on big decisions with Beal and Westbrook.

That pushed Hield to the forefront. But even as the possibility of a deal built around Kyle Kuzma and Harrell began to form, the Lakers kept the door open to a Westbrook deal.

Westbrook asserted his voice into the conversation, and per an NBA source, the Wizards pivoted. Just like that, the pieces the Kings liked for Hield were no longer available.

With Westbrook, the Lakers will have $120.8 million going to just three players next season in James, Davis and Westbrook. The salary cap projects to be $112.4 million, so the franchise is sure to climb above the $136.6 million tax line.

Because of several factors (the Lakers’ current hard cap, Kuzma’s extension starting Aug. 2), L.A. cannot execute the deal until after the moratorium on Aug. 6. Based on the reported details, the Lakers will have just five players with Gasol and McKinnie.

Look for the Lakers to keep as many free agents as possible, including Caruso, Horton-Tucker, Wes Matthews, Markieff Morris, Jared Dudley and possibly Ben McLemore. Schroder may leave in free agency, but a sign-and-trade would help the Lakers bring back additional talent to flesh out the roster.

The team will have about $5.9 million to spend via the taxpayer mid-level exception. They could try to re-sign Andre Drummond, but that may not be …

Russell Westbrook makes history as Washington forces Game 5

The Philadelphia 76ers lost Joel Embiid to a knee injury during the first quarter of Game 4 of their best-of-seven series against the Washington Wizards but that was just one of their issues coming out of Monday night’s matchup in D.C. as the Wizards were able to take advantage of Embiid’s absence in order to pick up a 122-114 win to extend the series to, at least, a Game 5.

While Bradley Beal performed at a high level as he has throughout the series, he finally received some support on the offensive end as Washington had seven players, including their entire starting five, score in double figures. Philadelphia was able to hold off Washington in the first half to take a one-point lead into the break but it was the Wizards who took control from there on out.

With the win, this series will shift back to Philadelphia for Game 5 as that matchup is scheduled to take place on Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Here are three key takeaways from the game:

1. Embiid leaves after hard fall

Yes, the Wizards won the game and extended the series, but the biggest takeaway from this game is by far Joel Embiid’s injury. Late in the first quarter, Embiid drove to the basket and tried to contort his body to get a shot away against Robin Lopez. In the process he lost his balance and landed awkwardly on the baseline.

He got up grabbing his hip and lower back, and that seemed to be the problem based on his landing. However, the Sixers later announced that he would be out for the rest of the game due to knee soreness. Upon further review of the video, you can see that he sort of jolts his knee when he comes down, and that was apparently a bigger issue.

When Embiid left the game, the Sixers were leading 20-12. Without him, they were outscored by 16 points the rest of the way and ended up losing 122-114. They’re still a better team …