Russell Westbrook Reportedly Headed to the Clippers, So Now What?
Russell Westbrook is staying home.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Russell Westbrook plans to head across the Crypto.com Arena hallway and sign with the Los Angeles Clippers for the remainder of the season. Westbrook is expected to reach a buyout with the Utah Jazz soon.
Since the moment Westbrook was traded to the Jazz in a three-team deal that included the Lakers and Timberwolves, the veteran point guard was tied to the Chicago Bulls. Not only has there been a clear need for more traditional facilitating on the Bulls’ roster, but Westbrook has had some of his best years under Billy Donovan in OKC. The current Bulls head coach apparently did extend a message to Westbrook about his potential fit in Chicago, and Wojnarowski did reiterate that conversations were had between Westbrook’s camp and the Bulls’ organization.
“Westbrook had 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 choose the Clippers,” sources told ESPN.
I don’t think anyone can blame Westbrook for joining Kawhi Leonard and former teammate Paul George. Out of the four teams that were reportedly showing legitimate interest, the championship ceiling in LA is arguably the highest (currently 32-28 and 4th in the West). Meanwhile, the Bulls will enter the post-All-Star break as the lowest on the totem pole.
Still, it seems pretty clear that the Bulls were making a push for Westbrook, and their failure to add him for the remainder of the season (while potentially a blessing in disguise) does sting a bit. It continues to speak to the poor position the franchise remains in this season, which only further puts into question its ability to attract free agents later this summer.
I also can’t help but bring up that missing out on Westbrook means Chicago remains the ONLY franchise in the NBA that has not made a mid-season move via trade or the buyout market. And, after losing six-straight games to enter the All-Star break, I really do wonder whether or not they’ll remain at all invested in the current free-agent market.
Patrick Beverley and John Wall are two other veteran point guards who remain without a team. Are the Bulls ready to pivot and pursue either player or will the potential to still improve their lottery odds keep them from trying to add more win-now talent to this team?
Arturas Karnisovas said that making the playoffs is still the goal after a quiet deadline, but I struggle to see a world where either Beverley or Wall drastically improves the team’s chances of making that happen. And, again, those comments by the front office leader were made prior to five more losses.
If I were Chicago, I would plan to simply lay in the bed I made. My eyes would be locked onto those top-4 lottery odds and my priority would be continuing to get a youngster like Dalen Terry some legitimate playing time. Finding a way to have Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams carry an even greater workload also couldn’t hurt.
Anyway, for more on the Bulls’ upgraded lottery odds, check out this post from last week: