Tyronn Lue says Clippers never had a leader until they found Russell Westbrook

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook has been a polarizing player during his NBA career, but it sounds like the Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t be happier to have the star guard, with head coach Tyronn Lue relaying that the team finally has a leader that it never had before.

“Here’s something that is gon’ shock the basketball world and all them reporters out there,” Gilbert Arenas said in relaying the story. “I talked to Tyronn Lue, and I said, ‘Man, why did my mans get no money, right?’ Talking about Westbrook — help my man get a little money, man.


“He said, ‘We gave him everything we had.’ He said, ‘We gave him everything he had. He didn’t wanna go nowhere, and we’re glad he didn’t because we’ve never had a leader, and he is our leader.’


“Think about the perception of Westbrook. And Tyronn Lue said, ‘We finally have a leader on our team to push us forward.'”

The Clippers are not only getting someone to lead their club but also have him at an astronomical discount after the 34-year-old took a pay cut that reportedly is the biggest in NBA history.

Westbrook agreed to a two-year contract reportedly worth $7.8 million with the Clippers last month, with the team only able to offer him a non-Bird exception of $3.8 million for the 2023-24 NBA season. He was coming off a five-year contract that was worth more than $200 million and paid him $47 million last season.

Westbrook reportedly was thought to maybe get a deal worth $15 million per season this summer, after other reports had said he was on his way out of the league after a rough start to the 2022-23 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

He was traded by the Lakers to the Utah Jazz on Feb. 10 and waived less than two weeks later, which allowed him to sign with the Clippers, reportedly helped by a push from Paul George. It was a move that at the time was deemed dubious by some NBA observers, with one executive reportedly saying, “I fear them much less now.”

Westbrook averaged 15.8 points and 7.6 assists per game in 21 regular appearances for the Clippers, almost identical to the 15.9 points and 7.5 assists per game he averaged in 52 contests with the Lakers, but the perception of his play across the city obviously was greatly different.

In fact, Westbrook’s 2021-22 season in L.A. was so bad that the Phoenix Suns were reportedly not an option for him this offseason due to former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel now being the Suns’ coach.

Lue apparently does not have any similar problems with Westbrook, so the Clippers can go about trying to win the NBA championship for the first time with a leader in place that they feel they lacked in the past.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.