FEBRUARY 22: Westbrook has signed with the Clippers after clearing waivers, the team announced (via Twitter).
FEBRUARY 20, 4:32pm: Westbrook has officially been waived, the Jazz’s PR department tweets.
FEBRUARY 20, 9:51am: Russell Westbrook will join the Clippers once he completes a buyout with the Jazz, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Paul George and Marcus Morris recently spoke out in favor of adding Westbrook, but Clippers management took more convincing, Wojnarowski writes. Sources tell Woj that team officials, including coach Tyronn Lue and president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, recently had discussions with Westbrook on whether he would accept a clearly defined role that focuses on his play-making, rebounding and toughness.
Those attributes could make a difference for a Clippers team that has been searching for a point guard after failing to fill that role before the trade deadline. L.A. unloaded Reggie Jackson and John Wall in separate deals, so there was a desire to find a lead guard.
Westbrook also had discussions with the Bulls, Wizards and Heat, but Wojnarowski’s sources say he was swayed by the chance to remain in Los Angeles and compete for a title with the Clippers.
Westbrook began the season with the Lakers, continuing a relationship that seemed rocky ever since he was acquired from Washington in 2021. He adapted to a sixth man role under new coach Darvin Ham and contributed 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists in 52 games. However, his shooting percentages remained low at 41.7% from the field and 29.6% from three-point range, and shot selection and turnovers were still an issue.
The 34-year-old guard, who was traded to Utah at the deadline, still must finalize buyout terms with the Jazz and clear waivers before he can join the Clippers. He will likely give up a portion of the money still owed to him on his $47MM+ expiring contract.
The Clippers were considered among the favorites in the West when the season began, but they have been inconsistent during a 33-28 start. If they get the best version of Westbrook to pair with Kawhi Leonard and George, his former teammate in Oklahoma City, they would be a tough playoff matchup for anyone.