Russell Westbrook has been the subject of trade rumors for months now, and one analyst has thrown the Los Angeles Clippers into the fray of potential suitors.
Dan Favale of Bleacher Report sees a way for the Clips to go all-in on Russ in a blockbuster trade virtually no one would see coming.
“Said suitor just needs to be in championship-or-bust mode, be willing to pay Westbrook $91.3 million over the next two years and have the outgoing contracts to make the math on any trade work,” Favale wrote. “Hello, Los Angeles Clippers.”
Could Clippers Keep Kawhi Leonard in Westbrook Trade?
Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and a career-high 11.7 assists per game last year, and has been one of the best point guards in the league for the last decade. The Los Angeles Lakers are rumored to be interested in trading for Westbrook, but Favale thinks the other team in L.A. should ship a boatload of players along with this year’s first-round draft pick off to the Washington Wizards in exchange for him.
Upgrading the point guard position beyond Reggie Jackson just going kaboom already ranked near the top of their to-do list. It is arguably higher now that Kawhi Leonard will miss at least a majority of next season following surgery to repair a partially torn right ACL. The Clippers remain on an ultra-immediate timeline without him. They can’t indulge a gap year even if they wanted to go that route, as Oklahoma City owns their unprotected 2022 first-rounders. Westbrook remains a divisive figure on Basketball Twitter, but he played an instrumental role in salvaging the Wizards’ 2020-21 season after apparently playing through a torn quad. The Clippers should have an easier time than most integrating him into their offense, with or without Leonard. Their penchant for playing small ensures Westbrook would get plenty of run in lineups that surround him with four shooters.
How would this even work? Favale breaks it all down.
Clippers Ship 4 Players & More in Westbrook Trade Proposal
With players like Leonard and Paul George already on the payroll, how could L.A. even afford the services of Westbrook, who is due just under $45 million next season? Favale proposed a trade involving several key Clippers role players:
Sending out enough money to bring back his $44.2 million salary is challenging but not insurmountable. Patrick Beverley (one year, $14.3 million), Serge Ibaka ($9.7 million player option), Luke Kennard ($12.7 million in 2021-22) and Rajon Rondo (one year, $7.5 million) provide a workable financial baseline. Jettisoning Beverley, Ibaka (if he opts in) and Kennard would get the job done without needing any add-ons. This presumes the Wizards prioritize cap relief in exchange for their second-best player. They’ll likely want something else even if they’re moving Westbrook in the aftermath of a Bradley Beal trade request. Including the No. 25 pick (post-draft) would allow the Clippers to keep Ibaka and ship out Beverley, Rondo and Kennard. Is that enough for the Wizards? Not with Beal and the expectations that come with him. But they’re probably only dealing Westbrook if they hit the reset button anyway. Picking up a first-rounder and more cap flexibility this summer and next, not to mention a young shooter with some off-the-dribble pizzazz in Kennard, is a sell-medium play at worst. And if the Wizards drive a harder bargain, the Clippers have three future Detroit second-rounders ready to offload as well.
Whew. It would take a lot, but technically, it’s possible — although extremely unlikely.
George referred to Westbrook as the “triple-double king” earlier this year, and there’s little doubt he would bring another dimension to the Clippers’ offense, but at what cost? Trades like this sometimes work, but they can also backfire and send a team spiraling due to lack of depth and draft capital. The Clippers are certainly going to be active when it comes to adding new talent this offseason, but it’s unclear how big of a push they want to make. Will it be a push this big? We’ll know soon enough.