Point guard Russell Westbrook in on the move, but not headed far. Westbrook is set to pack up his Lakers locker and move across Crypto.com Arena after agreeing to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook plans to sign with the Clips after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Utah Jazz, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Jazz acquired Westbrook in a three-team deal involving the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers. In that deal, the Jazz agreed to take on Westbrook’s contract and draft compensation in a deal that netted the Lakers D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. The Jazz also sent point guard Mike Conley to the Wolves as part of the deal.
Despite the trade, Westbrook, 34, did not suit up for Utah and reports indicated that the intention from the get-go was to waive the former NBA MVP, making him an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with any team of his choosing.
Clippers players, including Westbrook’s former Thunder teammate Paul George, have been publicly advocating for the much-maligned guard to sign with the team.
The Clippers have deployed an entirely new point guard rotation since the NBA trade deadline.
Guard Terance Mann has been starting for Los Angeles since January, and the team traded away John Wall and Reggie Jackson during the deadline. The Clippers also acquired second-year point guard Bones Hyland from Denver.
It’s unclear how the Clippers plan to deploy Westbrook, who played the bulk of the season for the Lakers coming off the bench. The Clippers are 12-8 since naming Mann the starting point guard, and Hyland was acquired by Los Angeles after growing dissatisfied with his role in Denver.
This season, Westbrook is averaging his fewest points per game and the worst field goal percentage since his rookie year.
Adding Westbrook to the Clippers will likely magnify the scrutiny that the team is under this season, one which many NBA analysts consider to be a make-or-break year.