Western Notes: Westbrook, Ryan, Pelicans, Ayton, Mavs

Russell Westbrook fit in even better than expected down the stretch with the Clippers last season, according to Law Murray of The Athletic, who notes that the veteran point guard was an effective change-of-pace option for a slow team and showed a willingness to work off the ball more than he has in the past.

With Westbrook returning to the Clippers after re-signing as a free agent, Murray explores whether the former MVP can have the same sort of impact in 2023/24 and what the team’s contingency options look like if Westbrook isn’t as effective or gets injured.

Terance Mann and Bones Hyland look like the best in-house alternatives at the point if the Clippers are unable to trade for James Harden or another veteran. However, the team still wants to see more aggression out of Mann as a play-maker and creator, while Hyland is an undersized defender, Murray writes.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Although Matt Ryan is signing a new two-way contract with the Timberwolves, he’s not necessarily guaranteed to keep that roster spot into the regular season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Ryan will compete for a two-way spot with Minnesota’s other camp invitees. Krawczynski adds (via Twitter) that the sharpshooter worked out for the Pelicans last week before agreeing to re-sign with the Wolves.
  • Following up on the recent Deandre Ayton trade rumors, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports puts together 10 hypothetical multi-team deals that send Ayton to the Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard to a third team, and other assets to the Suns.
  • Mavericks director of player health and performance Casey Smith, who has been on the team’s bench for the last two decades, will have his role adjusted this season, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Smith won’t travel with the Mavs on a regular basis or be on their bench, MacMahon says.
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