The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly were internally against signing guard Russell Westbrook until star Paul George pushed for it.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, George advocated for the team to sign Westbrook, something fellow star wing Kawhi Leonard supported. That led to the Clippers making the move.
“The Clippers are pretty much admitting that Paul George drove this decision,” Windhorst said of the team’s signing of Westbrook. “And from what I understand, they were internally against it at the start.
“Paul pushed for it publicly and privately. Kawhi supported it. And they looked more into it, and they were like, ‘Well, there are some things he could potentially help us with.’”
Windhorst said that the Clippers essentially talked themselves into bringing Westbrook on board for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.
The nine-time All-Star, who began the 2022-23 season with the Los Angeles Lakers, was a part of a three-team trade at this season’s trade deadline. He was moved to the Utah Jazz while Mike Conley landed with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt went to the Lakers.
Utah and Westbrook agreed to a buyout, allowing him to sign with a contender to close out the 2022-23 season.
This season, Westbrook is averaging 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from beyond the arc. He took a smaller role with the Lakers this season coming off the bench, but he still didn’t fit in well alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Westbrook and George spent time together on the Oklahoma City Thunder, and George played some of the best basketball of his career with Westbrook running the point. The former MVP is still a great facilitator, but he has struggled with his shot in recent seasons.
It’s unclear what Westbrook’s role will be with the Clippers, but he reportedly could end up in the starting lineup.
*Potential* starting lineup for the Clippers tomorrow:
Marcus Morris Sr.
(Via @LawMurrayTheNU )
— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) February 23, 2023
After moving guards Reggie Jackson and John Wall at the trade deadline, the Clippers needed some more depth at the point guard position.
Westbrook could prove to be the right fit for the Clippers, but it appears the team is trusting George with this decision rather than following its initial instinct.