Now that the NBA trade deadline has passed, the buyout market is starting to heat up. The buyout market is a direct result of the trade deadline, which occurs roughly 2/3 of the way through the season. By that point, teams have a much better idea of where they stand and whether they have a chance to compete.
We’ve already seen several non-contending teams release valuable veterans in an attempt to get some of the younger players playing time, and of course tank. While some fairly big names have hit the buyout market, the biggest by far is former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. Although Westbrook is a shell of his former MVP self, it’s still surprising that it took more than a week after the trade deadline, before he was signed by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Westbrook initially appeared to have his choice of teams, but that might not have been the case. Reports stated that the Miami Heat were among the teams having second thoughts about signing Westbrook.
After he was traded, reports surfaced that Westbrook’s behavior had become toxic later during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. If true, that would have made any team think twice about bringing in a player who could do the same to their locker room.
This is particularly true since he is unlikely to start for the Clippers. That being said, the Clippers may have weighed whether his behavior will have a negative effect on their chemistry. Westbrook’s personality has always been a bit abrasive, and when he was one of the best players in the NBA, it was easy to dismiss. Now, it’s much more of a concern.
To his credit, he has seemingly embraced a new role this season by coming off the bench for the Lakers. That could help extend his career, especially if he plays on a team that has better shooters to surround him than the Lakers did.
Fortunately, the Clippers have better shooting, making him a theoretical fit. Overall, even with these reports, the Clippers still signed him. However, his fit remains to be seen.