Brian Windhorst Says Russell Westbrook Should 'Absolutely Not' Start for Clippers

Erin WalshFebruary 22, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 02: 	Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers has a few words for the fans during the game against the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 02, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The expectation is that Russell Westbrook will start alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the Los Angeles Clippers, but ESPN's Brian Windhorst thinks inserting him into the starting five would be a mistake.

"Listen man, you cannot start him. Come on, man, you cannot start him," Windhorst said on his podcast (40:08 mark). "Absolutely not. It is absolutely not an option."

When Windhorst was asked what Westbrook's role would be, he added, "Exactly. I don't know."

The last time Westbrook was a full-time starter came during the 2021-22 campaign with the Lakers, and he put together arguably the worst season of his career with averages of 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists.

After the Lakers fired head coach Frank Vogel following the 2021-22 season and replaced him with Darvin Ham, Westbrook was demoted to a bench role in L.A. In 52 games (three starts) with the Purple and Gold this season, he averaged 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists while shooting 41.7 percent from the floor and 29.6 percent from deep.

The Lakers traded Westbrook to the Utah Jazz at the deadline in a three-team deal that also involved the Minnesota Timberwolves. The veteran guard and the Jazz then agreed to a buyout, making him a free agent.

The Athletic's Law Murray reported Monday that Westbrook planned to sign with the Clippers and that the "expectation" is that he would start for the franchise "at some point."

Westbrook would be expected to take over more of the ballhandling duties from Leonard and George.

Adding Westbrook to the starting lineup would also reduce the minutes of Terance Mann, who had been starting at point guard for the Clippers this season, Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland.

Additionally, doing so could be a risky move as the Clippers currently sit fourth in the Western Conference with a 33-28 record and can't afford to be losing game at this stage in the season with the 10th-place Oklahoma City Thunder just three games back of fourth place.