The nine-time All-Star could leave Utah via buyout after his trade from the Lakers this week.
With the trade deadline having come and gone, the Clippers are still seeking to improve the roster as they eye a trip to the playoffs this spring. For Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr., one name in particular rose to the top of mind for a possible late-season addition: Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook was traded from the Lakers to the Jazz on Wednesday in a three-team deal with the Timberwolves that sent Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and draft compensation to Minnesota and D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley to Los Angeles. Though he landed in Utah following a tumultuous stint with the Lakers, Westbrook could seek a buyout of his contract, which would free him up to sign with a contender for the stretch run.
George, who played alongside Westbrook on the Thunder from 2017 to ’19, brought up his former running mate unprompted when asked if the Clippers should add a point guard to the roster after trading away Reggie Jackson and John Wall in their own deals ahead of the deadline.
“I mean if there’s, you know, somebody out there – Russell,” George said Friday of adding a player on the buyout market, per Tomer Azarly. “If it makes sense and obviously it goes with our team, we’re all for it. You know, we need a point guard. But you know, [at] the same [time], I think we’re good as well. If nothing happened, we got enough in this locker room to be able to make it work.
“But it would definitely improve our team if we had that traditional point guard to kind of get us in things and make the game easy. So hopefully Russell sees this and we figure something out.”
George wasn’t the only member of the Clippers to back Westbrook and campaign for the front office to bring the former MVP aboard should he become available.
“He hasn’t had an opportunity to play on a team where, like, he could be himself and be able to play freely,” Morris said, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “Playing with the Lakers, it’s like media, media, media. And from the outside looking in, like every time something bad went wrong – Russell Westbrook. Nobody else was really getting no blame. And it just kept spiraling down.
“But we accept him open arms, man. Let him be himself. We need the personality, we need the veteran. He’s been in the playoffs a lot of times, been to the championship. I want him to come. I think that you can’t kill a wounded dog. You give him an opportunity to come back, it could be dangerous.”
Westbrook’s year-and-a-half tenure with the Lakers was rocky at best and eventually resulted in him leading the bench unit this season. The nine-time All-Star averaged 15.9 points, 7.5 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 turnovers in 52 games played this year, 49 of which saw him come in off the bench.
Though his stint with the Clippers’ cross-town rivals may not have gone as many hoped, George and Morris touted Westbrook’s possible fit on their roster. Morris went as far as to call Westbrook “one of the greatest players that ever played the game.”
“It’s funny how like people just like try to down his career after having like … I mean Lakers didn’t win, so it’s not like he’s having the off-year. The whole damn team is having an off-year,” he said. “So it’s not like it’s just him.
“Man, we’ll take him. We’ll love him. We’re open arms. Come on and let’s try to get to the championship.”