NBA free agency officially opens next Friday, and that means the league is in prime speculation season. Some rumors have real weight, while others take on a life of their own through a league-wide game of telephone.
The Clippers were part of a wild rumor on Tuesday, when Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported on The Ringer NBA Show that the team has interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook:
“Teams believe Russell Westbrook could be had, that Westbrook could be had. I’ve heard the Clippers have interest, I’ve heard the Knicks have interest, and whether anything materializes there, who knows? Who knows? But the fact is there is a belief that a guy like Westbrook could become available, and I wouldn’t be shocked if over the next week we hear more names that kind of come out of nowhere.”
O’Connor couched the interest with a good deal of context, but it is startling to hear that the Clippers have any interest in Westbrook, who is a difficult player to build around. The Clippers certainly need a point guard upgrade, but they’d have to give up Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, Patrick Beverley, and Montrezl Harrell via a sign-and-trade to make the math work, or they’d have to trade Paul George to bring Westbrook to Los Angeles. And let’s be real, Beverley would probably have to go in either situation because of his long-standing feud with Westbrook.
Neither of those options make the Clippers better, and the Clippers are famously tight-lipped about their front-office business. Old friend Robert Flom has a theory that the interest is really Houston’s desire to dump the aging point guard. That makes more sense than the Clippers working hard to acquire him.
Maybe the Clippers have inquired about Russ. But he’s an awful fit alongside Kawhi and PG, and is crazy expensive and declining to boot.— Robert Flom (@RichHomieFlom) November 10, 2020
I wouldn’t read much into it. My guess would be that the Rockets called trying to dump him, knowing that the Clips are after a PG.
That Westbrook is available after one season with the Rockets isn’t surprising considering the way Houston’s season blew up in the playoffs, but there has to be a better fit for him than in L.A. Hopefully, the next Clipper rumor is more plausible.
More news for Wednesday:
- The Celtics — and the NBA — lost a legend with the passing of Tommy Heinsohn.
- Zach Lowe has a really interesting story about the 76ers bringing back their black jerseys, and the role of Ben Simmons in the process.
- ESPN listed the best and worst draft-day deals each GM has made in his current role.
- Marc Stein examines the coronavirus-related difficulties of playing basketball without the bubble. In related news, the Knicks had to shut down their facility due to positive tests.
- Bobby Marks breaks down the changes to the collective bargaining agreement.
- In other trade news, the Suns are pursuing Chris Paul.
- NBA 2K is finally serving its WNBA audience. Matt Ellentuck has the details.
- Jenn Hatfield does a statistical deep dive into the newly-engaged Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe’s relationship.