Clippers’ Bold Plans To Embrace Russell Westbrook

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LA Clippers, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

Russell Westbrook is on the move once again, but he won’t be going anywhere. After being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team trade ahead of the NBA midseason deadline, Westbrook is just moving down the hallway.

The Jazz and Westbrook agreed to a buyout and he has since agreed to a deal to join the LA Clippers. He will still have a chance to bring the city of Los Angeles a championship, except it will be the first one in Clippers’ history.

This is a big move for the Clippers as they sought to fortify their backcourt for the stretch run of the season. They bolstered their backcourt by adding Bones Hyland and Eric Gordon in trades and Westbrook will help even more. During his introductory press conference, he shared how excited he was to get started.

“I’m super excited, man,” Westbrook said. “I’m just excited to get back to playing. I love to play basketball and I just have a lot of fun while doing it. I get to stay home, see the wife and the kids and take them to school in the morning that’s a big part of my day and you know, nothing more important than that. And I’m happy to be here.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George & LA Clippers Updates

“I think that’s a huge part, man,” Westbrook continued. “For anybody, for any normal human being in any situation in the workplace is somebody that a lot of teammates and people that want you here it’s very important to me. I value that a lot. Just I’ve been in this league a long time and being somewhere that people want you and they embrace you and that meant a lot to me.”

Fit for Westbrook is very important. For him to succeed on the court, there need to be some very specific things in place. He thrives will the ball in his hands and is surrounded by shooters in small ball lineups, which helped him get on track this season as the sixth man for the Lakers.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George & LA Clippers Updates

Head coach Tyronn Lue will certainly have his work cut out for him finding a role for Westbrook, and the new players, can thrive. Their roster is as deep and talented as anyone’s in the NBA so he should be able to mix and match. But, the most important thing is just letting Russ be Russ.

“Just doing what he does,” Lue said of his strategy for using Westbrook. “I think we want to Russ to be Russ. And so if he’s doing too much, or not enough, I’ll let him know. But we wanted him to be the player that he is, you know, the MVP, the Hall of Famer, everything he brings every single night. And so we want him to be that person, that player. Then we just got to make sure that it’s in the confines of our team and what we’re trying to do team wise.

Lue explained: “So I’m just talking to him about those expectations, and what we want to do. I’m excited. He just wants to win. When you have a Hall of Fame player that was willing to come off the bench with the Lakers and try something different to help the team win, that means a lot. Just showed you about how much he wants to win. So we’re just excited.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George & LA Clippers Updates

There was a lot that likely went into this decision for Westbrook. He had to be comfortable and land in a situation that would not only help him this season but for years to come. If he can continue playing well off the bench, his value will only increase when he enters free agency this offseason.

Having a prior relationship with players on the team couldn’t have hurt. Westbrook spent two seasons with Paul George on the Oklahoma City Thunder and George openly recruited Westbrook to team up again with the Clippers.

“I’m always a huge Russell supporter,” Paul George said earlier this season. “I won’t undermine the great moments we had in Oklahoma. He was tremendous for my career. Honestly, I don’t get the shade or the hate or the stuff that’s thrown at him. He’s one of the best players to ever play this game.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George & LA Clippers Updates

Currently, in fourth place in the Western Conference with a record of 33-28, the Clippers began finding their footing heading into the All-Star break. Only four games behind the second-place Memphis Grizzlies, the Clippers are going to do their best to make a push up the standings and secure homecourt for as long as possible.

Westbrook will be an integral part of that plan, likely as the lead ball handler on the second unit. Surrounded by enough shooting and defense, he should find no issues thriving in Lue’s system.

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