Russell Westbrook Rumors: Clippers 'Were Never Interested' in PG Before Lakers Trade

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 13: Russell Westbrook
attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The Los Angeles Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook this offseason, pairing him with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And they reportedly didn't have much competition for his services from their hometown rivals.

"The Clippers were never interested in Russell Westbrook," Zach Lowe said on The Lowe Post podcast (h/t RealGM). "They were a rumored Russell Westbrook trade in a few places whenever that happened. They were never interested. That was never a real thing. I think they value their optionality too much."

Lowe added that he does not believe the Clippers will be in the market for John Wall, who has reportedly agreed to a mutual parting of the ways with the Houston Rockets and won't play games for the team while they seek a trade. 

There is a strong argument to be made that in the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era of Clippers basketball, the team's biggest weakness has been the lack of quality point guard play. 

But Reggie Jackson—who re-signed with the team on a two-year, $22 million deal this offseason—may have assuaged those concerns in this year's playoffs when he averaged 17.8 points and 3.4 assists per game, shooting 40.8 percent from beyond the arc.

He was a huge reason the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference Finals, though Kawhi Leonard's season-ending knee injury ultimately cut their title dreams short. 

"Reggie elevates our team with his energy, his confidence and his ability to be at his best in the biggest moments," team president Lawrence Frank told reporters after Jackson's re-signing. "He was an important part of our team last season, and he will continue to be going forward."

Westbrook, 32, remains a nightly triple-double threat, after averaging 22.2 points, 11.7 assists and 11.5 rebounds per game last season. But he's also a mediocre defender who operates best with the ball in his hands and doesn't stretch the floor at all (31.5 percent from three last season). 

He also has a cap hit of $44.2 million this season and a $47 million player option for 2022-23 that he'll almost assuredly exercise. The combined salaries of Jackson ($10.4 million), Luke Kennard ($12.7 million), Marcus Morris Sr. ($15.6 million) and Justise Winslow ($3.9 million) are still less than what Westbrook will earn in his first Lakers campaign. 

In other words, acquiring him would have required the Clippers to not only give up a ton of depth but also sacrifice a chunk of the core that reached the conference finals in large part because of their ability to play small and force mismatches on the perimeter. 

Add it all up, and it makes sense why the Clippers reportedly passed on Westbrook.


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