WASHINGTON (AP) — By the time the Washington Wizards made their selection with the 15th pick in the NBA draft, that wasn’t going to be the biggest news of the night.
Shortly before their turn came up Thursday night, the Wizards agreed to trade All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. Washington agreed to send Westbrook and two future second-round picks to Los Angeles for three players and this year’s 22nd pick.
The Wizards then took Gonzaga sharp shooter Corey Kispert with their original first-round pick at No. 15. If that selection was overshadowed by the news about Westbrook, it was still a memorable occasion for Kispert.
“That little two or so minutes from the time my name got called when I shook Commissioner Silver’s hand, is a highlight of my life,” Kispert said. “I feel still like my heart rate’s dropping. Numb from head to toe. I loved every minute of it.”
The 22nd pick (Isaiah Jackson) eventually ended up with Indiana, and the Wizards received the 31st pick (Isaiah Todd). The Athletic and Stadium reported that Washington is also receiving guard Aaron Holiday, who played for the Pacers last season.
The Wizards are receiving Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell from the Lakers. That trade breaks up Washington’s dynamic backcourt pair of Westbrook and Bradley Beal and led Westbrook to post his thanks to the city on social media.
“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” Westbrook wrote. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way.”
The 6-foot-7 Kispert could give Washington some more outside shooting. He played four years at Gonzaga and shot 44% from 3-point range in each of his final two seasons with the Bulldogs. Kispert appeared in 137 games for Gonzaga and was an All-American as a senior, when the Bulldogs went undefeated until they lost to Baylor in the NCAA championship game.
“He helped lead them to the national championship game. He just had a stellar collegiate career, he’s very mature,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said. “The way that we see the future of the NBA, I’ve mentioned this several times, I think you’re going to see more 3s than less, and he’s somebody that really makes us comfortable that we can reach our goal of increasing our 3-point shooting.”
Kispert was the second Gonzaga player taken Thursday. Jalen Suggs went to Orlando at No. 5.
Washington made the playoffs last season but lost to top-seeded Philadelphia. The Wizards allowed the most points in the NBA, but Beal (31.3 points per game) and Westbrook (22.2 points and a league-best 11.7 assists) were good enough to help them to the postseason.
Washington hired Wes Unseld Jr. earlier this month to replace Scott Brooks as coach.