The Clippers players REALLY wanted him. The Clippers are a player-friendly organization that needs a point guard.
All of that means the deal is getting done — Russell Westbrook is going to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers after he is bought out by the Utah Jazz, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on the word of Westbrook’s agent.
After finalizing a contract buyout with the Utah Jazz, nine-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook plans to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, his agent Jeff Schwartz of @excelbasketball tells ESPN. pic.twitter.com/OjZ0Mkuz5x
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 20, 2023
This makes sense for Westbrook — he has loved playing back home in Los Angeles close to his family and friends. Also, the Clippers can give him minutes, they shifted around their point guard situation at the trade deadline, sending out Reggie Jackson and John Wall. Terance Mann has been the starting point guard (and playing well in the role), and now they have Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland. Westbrook can fit into that mix.
“I’m a big believer and a fan of what Russ’ work is, having one of my best seasons in my career alongside of him,” Paul George said after a recent game. “I’ve seen what he can do night in and night out. I really think he can improve the team. He’s such a big talent. He rebounds, he finds guys, he makes the game easy for everyone. I think he will come in, mesh, figure out how we play, and adjust to it.”
The Westbrook George played with in OKC is not the guy he is now. Westbrook averaged 15.9 points and 7.5 assists a game with the Lakers but on a very inefficient 49.6 true shooting percentage, he is a minus defender at this point in his career, and he didn’t mesh well on the court with LeBron James. The Lakers traded Westbrook to the Jazz in a three-team blockbuster that also sent Mike Conley to the Timberwolves. Westbrook was never going to touch the court in Utah, and they gave him the freedom to talk to interested teams (he was also linked to the Bulls and Suns).
The Clippers are a team in need of more shooting and defense. They got Westbrook. There was not unanimity in their front office about this move, but while the Clippers have played better of late (10-4 in their last 14 with the best offense in the NBA over that stretch, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the court more), they have not looked like a true contender. This is a bold move, we’ll see how it plays out.