Russell Westbook Signs with Clippers, Will Reunite with Paul George

The former Lakers All-Star and MVP reunites with Paul George and fills void in the Clippers backcourt following Trade Deadline shuffle

The drama of the NBA Trade Deadline continues to deliver. Former Los Angeles Laker Russell Westbrook has agreed to a buyout with the Utah Jazz following a blockbuster trade that sent Westbrook to Utah and D’Angelo Russell to the Lakers. The twist? Russell is staying in Los Angeles and signing with the Clippers.

The logistics of moving Westbrook’s shoes and headphones from the Lakers’ to the Clippers’ locker room aside, the drama of staying in the city he was just out of is exactly what makes the NBA the best American league to follow for contracts.

With the Lakers struggling for health and wins, LeBron James began to agitate for the Lakers to trade for the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving, a trade that would have had to include Westbrook for salary purposes. When Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, James conducted a sit-down interview with Michael Wilbon of ESPN, complaining once more that the team did not make the move for Irving. By then, the writing was on the wall for Westbrook, and he was traded to Utah days later. The fact that Westbrook recently moved into a mansion across the street from one of James’ Los Angeles homes only elevates the tension of Westbrook’s choice to stay in the city of Angels.

After the Sixth Man of the Year candidate was traded to Utah, league insiders expected Westbrook to reach a buyout agreement with the rebuilding Jazz, which fueled speculation about potential landing spots.

In the midst of the rumors, Clippers forward Paul George stated clearly that he felt Westbrook would be a boon to the team. The two played together in Oklahoma City before George was traded to Los Angeles and Westbrook to Houston. At the All-Star game this weekend, he doubled down on his interest in a reunion, saying that he would love to see Westbrook win a championship. Just two days later, the pair are teammates again, united in pursuit of the first-ever Clippers NBA Championship.

With that said, many in the NBA community feel that Westbrook does not fit with George and his co-star Kawhii Leonard. Westbrook struggles to shoot the ball from three-point range, and his reckless slashing could create spacing trouble for George and Leonard, the fulcrums of the Clippers’ offense. Bill Simmons, founder of sports website the Ringer and notable Clippers season ticket holder, took to Twitter to express his feelings about the fit:

There is no question that swapping the 13th place Lakers for the 4th place Clippers fulfills George’s wish to bring Westbrook closer to a championship. Whether Westbrook’s presence brings George and the Clippers closer to a championship, however, is another question.

At least for now, oddsmakers are ambivalent. Draftkings has left the Clippers title odds unchanged at +900 following the ESPN report that Westbook is signing with the Clippers. With Westbrook’s history of speaking his mind, and his former teammates on the Lakers all the way down at +4,000, one can expect this storyline to continue to provide drama for the rest of the season.

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today