The day after the trade deadline, star forward Paul George told reporters that he wanted Russell Westbrook to end up with the Clippers. Two weeks later, with Westbrook on the verge of making his Clippers debut, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested on his Hoop Collective podcast that George’s advocacy for the former MVP was the driving force behind the team’s decision to sign him.
“From what I understand, they were internally against (signing Westbrook) at the start,” Windhorst said, per RealGM. “Paul pushed for it publicly and privately. Kawhi (Leonard) supported it. And they looked more into it and they were like ‘Well, you know, there are some things he can potentially help us with. One of the things that’s a factor for us is we tend to kind of get a little loaf-y.’ They talked themselves into it, is the long story short.”
Windhorst’s reporting doesn’t come as a real surprise — comments made by president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank after the trade deadline indicated he wasn’t initially targeting a player like Westbrook. Frank spoke about wanting a point guard who wouldn’t be very ball dominant and who has “got to be able to shoot.” Westbrook, a 29.6% three-point shooter this season, is at his best with the ball in his hands.
Still, as Windhorst alluded to, and as ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an Insider-only story, the Clippers only rank 20th in the NBA in drives this season and are tied for 23rd in shots at the rim. Plus, they have more shooting around Westbrook than the Lakers did, so there are reasons to believe the veteran’s fit could be better with L.A. other’s team.
Here’s more on the Clippers:
- Ahead of Westbrook’s debut with the Clippers, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, and Jovan Buha and Law Murray of The Athletic all evaluated the 34-year-old’s potential fit and discussed whether or not they think the match will be a good one.
- The Westbrook signing should be viewed as an endorsement for head coach Tyronn Lue and the Clippers’ stars, Murray writes for The Athletic. As Murray explains, the move signals that the front office is willing to listen to its players and trusts Lue to make the best decisions for the team.
- The Clippers will be without starting center Ivica Zubac in their first game after the All-Star break on Friday due to a right calf strain, tweets Greif. The injury should open the door for recently acquired big man Mason Plumlee, who played 17 and 18 minutes in his first two games with the Clippers, to take on a bigger role.
- Former Nuggets and current Clippers guard Bones Hyland repeatedly cited “miscommunication” as an issue that led to his exit from Denver, where he felt “kicked to the curb,” according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. So far though, communication hasn’t been a problem for Hyland with the Clippers, even though his playing time may take a hit following the addition of Westbrook. “I understand (Lue) has a good plan for me,” Hyland said. “I know he’s not just going to leave me in a desert, man, just by myself. … The first thing he did (after the Westbrook signing) was call me over and talk to me one-on-one. That’s something I respect about Ty Lue.”