Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Clippers are at it again.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal to stay with the Clippers after a surprising amount of success as a post-NBA trade deadline signing.
The deal comes after a supermax deal ended when Westbrook’s value was considered one of the worst in the NBA. It started with the Oklahoma City Thunder, then he moved on to the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards and finally the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was with the Lakers that Westbrook became a real target for fans, as his ball-dominant playing style and infamous shooting woes clashed with what the team needed from its point guard. Fans long ago — and LeBron James, who initially pushed for Westbrook’s acquisition — clamored for a trade.
That trade finally came in the middle of Westbrook’s second season in Los Angeles. During that time, the Lakers went 58-79, missed the playoffs in 2022 and fired head coach Frank Vogel after allegedly clashing with Westbrook. The Lakers dealt the point guard to the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline for role players, burning a draft pick to make it happen. The Jazz released Westbrook two weeks later, allowing him to quickly sign with the Clippers.
The other team in Los Angeles turned out to be a good matchup. Needing a point guard who can penetrate the paint and attack open players on the perimeter, the Clippers immediately inserted Westbrook into the starting lineup. Westbrook’s stats haven’t changed much — his points, assists and turnovers per game were nearly identical last year with the Lakers and Clippers — but his field goal (41.7% to 48.9%) and 3-point percentages (29.6% to 35.6%) have been a surprise on his defense. He made a significant leap when he was blessed.
Despite the Clippers going 11-10 in the regular season with Westbrook and losing the first five games of his tenure, Paul played the last nine games without George. Their season ended with a first-round loss to Westbrook’s old teammate Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns, with both George and Kawhi Leonard exiting at the end of the series.
The move turned out to be a good one for the Lakers as they went on a postseason run that ended in the Western Conference Finals. Their return to Westbrook, especially D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Vanderbilt, certainly helped them reach the playoffs.
This new contract gives Westbrook a chance at a full reset, though you can only be upset when a player is criticized for a $205 million contract.
Westbrook was scandalized when his team was on the hook for his $47 million salary. He was once again a success story when his team paid him the veteran’s minimum. Now, let’s see what is his most reasonable salary.
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