While Russell Westbrook’s status for this season is uncertain, one team he’s not likely interested in is the Phoenix Suns, due to new head coach Frank Vogel.
Law Murray of The Athletic looked at the Los Angeles Clippers’ interest in acquiring veteran Chris Paul and how that could affect Westbrook’s future with the team.
“The Clippers would not be shutting the door on Westbrook even if they could acquire Paul, league sources not authorized to speak publicly tell The Athletic,” wrote Murray. “The biggest contract they can legally offer Westbrook (starting at 120 percent of the veteran’s minimum) would still be on the table. How Westbrook receives that is unclear.
“While Westbrook was seriously contemplating returning to the Clippers on that contract for slightly more than the veteran’s minimum, those sources said, that was before LA’s interest in Paul reached this degree. Trading for Paul while Westbrook is still available would be a way for the front office to get the player they want in place while forcing Westbrook to potentially take the same deal, but for undoubtedly a different role.
“That could push Westbrook to pursue other teams, but it is unclear who the Clippers would be bidding against for Westbrook’s services. (Chicago? Miami? Portland? We know the [Los Angeles] Lakers and Suns with Frank Vogel aren’t on that list.)”
Westbrook’s apparent disinterest in joining the Suns or Lakers stems from his forgettable tenure as a member of the Lakers that ended earlier this year.
In 2021, the Lakers completed a blockbuster deal to acquire Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. The belief was that adding Westbrook to the team’s lineup which included LeBron James and Anthony Davis would make it a strong championship contender.
Instead, chemistry issues in the lineup surfaced almost immediately, and subsequent injuries to James and Davis turned the 2021-22 season into a nightmare. Besides not contending for a title, the Lakers failed to even reach the playoffs.
Vogel was the Lakers’ head coach that season, and the team’s struggles resulted in him being dismissed soon after the regular season ended. After sitting out the 2022-23 season, Vogel was hired as head coach of the Suns after they dismissed Monty Williams.
Westbrook’s second and final season with the Lakers witnessed him be used almost exclusively off the bench. In February of this year, he was traded to the Utah Jazz, who subsequently waived him, a move that allowed him to sign with the Clippers.
The former MVP’s possible anger toward the Lakers likely stems from verbal abuse he and his family endured from the team’s fan base.
That abuse became ugly enough that Lakers icon Magic Johnson felt compelled to ask fans to dial back their animosity toward the guard. In addition, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry offered words of support for Westbrook.
It remains possible that Westbrook, a native of Southern California, could remain a member of the Clippers, regardless of the team’s pursuit of Paul.