After finalizing a contract buyout with the Utah Jazz, 11-year veteran Russell Westbrook is joining the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Prior to the end of the trade deadline, the nine-time All-Star guard was dealt from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz and will now suit up for the Lakers’ crosstown counterparts.
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
In the 2022-23 NBA season, Westbrook is averaging 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Most notably, he’s shooting an abysmal 29.6 percent from long range and turning the ball over 3.5 times per game. Most of his contributions to the Lakers came from the bench as the second unit’s primary ball handler and scorer.
Expect the 2017-18 MVP to have a sizable role on the Clippers: the team has parted ways with both Reggie Jackson and John Wall, who, before the start of the season, were seen as the team’s two saviors to their ongoing inability to find a true point guard.
In the Paul George-Kawhi Leonard era, the Clippers have experimented with various floor generals — Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Reggie Jackson, to name a few. Now, they take another gamble by acquiring an aging veteran in Westbrook, whose recent performances have been controversial, to say the least.
There is one big difference between the Clippers and the Lakers, though: perimeter shooting. The Clippers’ surplus of shooters — the team is shooting 37.8% from deep (sixth in the league) — could be the long-awaited remedy to Westbrook’s recent struggles. On the contrary, his former team is the fifth-worst three-point shooting team, knocking down just 33.7 percent of their looks from downtown.
The team’s elite shot-making — not to overlook the ability to go small with versatile weapons like Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris Sr. — will help space the floor for an uber-athletic, ball-dominant slasher like Westbrook to take full advantage of.
Important to note — this won’t be the first time the UCLA product will play alongside Clippers’ superstar Paul George. In the 2018-19 NBA season, it was Westbrook who was the Robin to George’s batman: benefitting from an elite playmaking Westbrook, the eight-time All-Star enjoyed his most prolific season, averaging 28 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.
George did share earlier this month, “But it would definitely improve our team if we had that traditional point guard to kind of get us in things and make the game easy. So hopefully Russell sees this and we figure something out.”
All things considered, things couldn’t have been any more ideal for the all-time leader in triple-doubles. Not only does he join a better, more competitive team, but he also is surrounded by firepower and world-class shooting. Not to mention, he doesn’t have the burden of moving out of Los Angeles to a different city.
That isn’t to say that things are exactly ideal for the Clippers. Will Westbrook be a good fit for the team? Could he step up to the level of basketball we saw him play a few years ago?
There’s no knowing yet whether the team’s new acquisition will benefit or damage the 213’s championship chances. But for now, all Clippers fans can do is wait and see.