Russell Westbrook is signing with the Clippers in a move that reunites him with former Thunder teammate Paul George.
Westbrook was traded to the Jazz in a three-team trade at the deadline and Utah is completing a buyout with the point guard which allows him to sign elsewhere.
While Westbrook isn’t the same player he was at his MVP peak, he’s still someone who can contribute to a winning team. He showcased a willingness to play a different role this season, accepting the Lakers’ bench role while continuing to mentor younger players on the team.
For the Clippers, he’ll fit a void that they thought John Wall could fill as a playmaker who can mesh with both the team’s stars and its bench unit.
Wizards Had Interest In Westbrook
The Wizards were among the teams that had discussions with the point guard. The Heat and the Bulls were also in the mix, though according to Woj, the chance to stay in Los Angeles as well as compete for a title swayed Westbrook to pick the Clippers.
Westbrook would have been welcomed in Washington, as there were rumblings dating back to last summer that the Wizards were open to a reunion. The nine-time All-Star helped lead Washington to the 2021 playoffs, an accomplishment the franchise hasn’t reached since.
Miami made a lot of sense as well as a Westbrook destination (as part of my 48 bold predictions leading into the 2022-23 season, I had the Heat landing Westbrook in a trade). The Bulls’ linkage stems from their void at point guard and coach Billy Donovan‘s relationship with Westbrook whom he coached on the Thunder.
How About That Reporting?
After the trade to the Jazz, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that there may not be a spot for Westbrook in the league. Yeah.
Charania is a titan in the NBA news-breaking world but it’s worth noting that Charania is repped by an agency that Rich Paul runs. You could imagine the source of that piece of “news” could easily be someone in LeBron James‘ vicinity. Anyways, Westbrook lands in a spot where he can help a team advance way further in the postseason than he would have if he had stayed on the Lakers.
Details On Westbrook’s New Role
Tyronn Lue and Lawrence Frank were among those who spoke with Westbrook leading up to this deal, according to Woj, and everyone is on the same page about what role the former MVP will play.
The Clippers became increasingly interested with Westbrook as team officials, including coach Ty Lue and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, dug into a series of conversations with Westbrook, sources said. Those discussions centered on Westbrook’s willingness to fit into a clear and specific role with the Clippers built around his playmaking, rebounding and toughness, sources said.
Los Angeles traded away Reggie Jackson and Wall at the deadline, though they added Bones Hyland via a separate trade with the Nuggets. Over the course of this season, the Clippers have also employed Terance Mann as their point guard at times, something that continued during the two games that Hyland played before the All-Star break (and something that has been quite successful for Los Angeles).
Expect Westbrook to start by the time the playoffs roll around, though I imagine we’ll see Mann continue to have some play-making duties. Once George, Westbrook, and Kawhi Leonard are consistently in the lineup, we’re talking about an offense that—in theory—could be among the best in the NBA despite the narrative that Westbrook hinders their chances. With Westbrook in the fold, the Clippers boast one of the deepest rotations in the league as well.
After a season and a half of being part of a seemingly ever-chaotic purple-and-gold locker room, we’ll get to see exactly what a motivated Westbrook can add to a title team. The most professional basketball team in Los Angeles got better with this one and they should be considered among the true title contenders this spring.