The Los Angeles Clippers’ season came to an early end, thanks largely to injuries to their two best players. Even then, there were a few positive takeaways, including the late-season addition of Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was signed by the Clippers after being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz and later waived.
While he wasn’t expected to have a major impact after an up-and-down two-thirds of the season with the Lakers, he proved to be a terrific pickup. In 21 regular-season games with the Clippers, Westbrook averaged an impressive 15.8 points on 48.9% shooting, 7.6 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game.
He was even better in the playoffs, posting 23.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. After his success with the Clippers, most fans would expect him to return next season, but that may not be the case, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
Russell Westbrook could leave the Los Angeles Clippers this summer.
Pincus expects Westbrook to seek a new contract for the full mid-level exception, something the Clippers won’t have at their disposal. That could mean that another team may lure Westbrook away. A couple of things work in Los Angeles’ favor, however.
For one, bad teams that could afford to sign Westbrook likely won’t for several reasons, including age and fit issues. Meanwhile, good teams like the Miami Heat, who have been linked to Westbrook, also won’t have access to the full mid-level exception.
Even if he does find a team that can afford to pay him what he feels he is worth, they may not be as good as the Clippers at full strength, and he might not start. That could result in him taking a pay cut, which could leave open the possibility of him returning to Los Angeles next season.
All in all, Westbrook played surprisingly well for Los Angeles, and he may try to parlay that performance into a sizable new contract. That may prove easier said than done, however, and Westbrook returning to the Clippers next season is still a possibility but not a guarantee.