Russell Westbrook’s rocky tenure with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers came to an end with him being dealt to the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline this year.
The Lakers were able to turn Westbrook’s $47 million expiring salary into three pieces that can help moving forward in D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt while only sacrificing one top-four protected first-round pick in 2027.
A trade was best for both parties as it was clear that Westbrook was not working out on the Lakers alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After missing the Play-In Tournament last season, they were trending that way again currently sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference.
Even though Westbrook was traded to the Jazz, there was never an expectation that he would play there as they are not competing and would buy him out so he could go somewhere that’s a better fit. Teams that showed interest in Westbrook include the L.A. Clippers, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
It appears Westbrook has chosen to stay home as he will be signing with the Clippers, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
After completing a contract buyout, nine-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook plans to sign with the LA Clippers, his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports, told ESPN.
Once Westbrook and the Utah Jazz complete the buyout on the remaining $47 million owed on his expiring deal, the former NBA MVP will clear waivers and return to Los Angeles — this time with the Clippers.
Westbrook was sold by the Clippers on similar things the Lakers sold him on such as a defined role that will fit his strengths and perhaps a spot in the starting lineup:
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.
Led by Paul George, the Clippers have been recruiting Westbrook for a while now and it seems that the opportunity to stay home on a contender was too much to pass up for the former MVP.
It will be interesting to see how Westbrook fits alongside George and Kawhi Leonard considering how poorly he fit on the Lakers. With only a handful of regular-season games to go, he will not have much time to get integrated with his new team.
The Lakers and Clippers play each other one more time in the regular season on April 5, a game that now obviously has even more intrigue than it already did.
Rob Pelinka says it’s unfair to blame Westbrook for Lakers’ struggles
Even though he traded Westbrook at the deadline, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka also wanted to make it clear that the point guard is not the sole reason for L.A.’s struggles of the last two seasons.
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