LOS ANGELES—After his rough tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers came to its tumultuous end last week in a three-team trade, Russell Westbrook, 34, signed with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, February 20.
The veteran point guard resurrected his career by coming off the bench this year, transforming from NBA superstar into a steadfast and reliable sixth man.
Westbrook is averaging 15.9 points, 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds over 52 games this season.
He will join fellow NBA 75 all-time greats Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. Along with improving center Ivica Zubuc and many are praising this new nucleus.
Although the duo of Kawhi and PG-13 has yet to win an NBA Championship let alone reach the NBA Finals, the Clippers have never had a true point guard to run their offense.
Westbrook achieved almost every accolade imaginable in the NBA, except being an NBA Champion. The future Hall of Fame guard possesses a fire within that might inspire a team that occasionally lacks motivation and tempo.
With all of the blockbuster moves at the trade deadline, such as the Phoenix Suns acquiring Kevin Durant and the Dallas Mavericks picking up Kyrie Irving, the Clippers needed to make a move at this juncture to keep pace. Westbrook had $13.2 million left on his contract this season.
Before signing Russ, the Clippers had several conversations about his role. Clippers Head Coach Ty Lue and head of operations Lawrence Frank spelt out specifically what Westbrook needs to bring to the table in order to help the Clippers.
What the Clippers expect from the 2017 NBA MVP are his intangible qualities, his playmaking, rebounding and toughness, sources said. Absent from that list is his shooting, which has become his Achilles heel.
Westbrook discussed deals with the Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat in recent days, but the chance to compete for a championship and remain in Los Angeles played a significant part in his decision to join the Clippers.
George was adamant in his praise for his former teammate during the weekends NBA All-Star Game.
“I’m a big believer and a fan of what Russell’s 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,” George said. “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, he will mesh and he’ll figure out how we play and he’ll adjust to it.”
Westbrook joins a Clippers team that is ready to win.