Russell Westbrook was traded before the deadline by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz along with their 2027 first-round pick for several players. Westbrook was officially waived on Monday after completing a buyout with the Jazz. The fourteen-year veteran received the opportunity to seek suitors in the market.
The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Clippers were all reportedly interested in acquiring the guard. The cross-town rival Clippers ultimately prevailed in signing the former Laker.
All-Star Paul George, was someone who coveted Westbrook once teams knew he ultimately would become available.
“I’ve talked to him just to kind of see where his head is and to see if there is anything I can do…” George said to the Associated Press. “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. 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.”
Clippers head coach Ty Lue and the front office both sought a point guard before the trade deadline. Bones Hyland was then acquired from the Denver Nuggets, a second-year player still trying to find his way in this league.
Current Roster Makeup
The Clippers currently sit as the fourth seed in the Western Conference at 33-28. Lue knows this team will go as far as Kawhi Leonard and George will take them. Lue knows what he is going to get from them on a nightly basis on both ends.
Terance Mann gets the start in the backcourt and helps compliment Leonard and George with his ability to contribute to the team without necessarily having to score. The former Seminole can rebound, defend, sets effective screens and most importantly plays with energy and effort.
Norman Powell is averaging 17.7 ppg as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the Clippers since coming off the bench. The team also acquired Eric Gordon, a fourteen-year veteran who is a career 16.2 ppg scorer. You can see our trade deadlines grade for the Clippers here.
Assessing Westbrook’s Fit
Westbrook took a lot of blame for the struggles of the Lakers, but positively contributed coming off the bench earlier in the season. The nine-time All-Star has four triple-doubles and seventeen double-doubles this season.
The down side to Westbrook sometimes is his propensity for turnovers with 184 in fifty-two games for Lakers. Westbrook is also inefficient from behind the arc, averaging just 29.6% which is well below league-average. The former MVP’s inability to play defense when he doesn’t feel engaged offensively will be a major hinderance for the Clippers if Lue cannot get Westbrook to buy in.
Lue will have to try to get everyone on board quickly especially Westbrook with only twenty-one games remaining this season. The Clippers will need to put this all together quickly to meaningfully compete in the Western Conference.
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