NBA Rumors: Russell Westbrook Suspension Worries Clippers & OG Anunoby Trade Talk

Russell Westbrook, Clippers

Getty, Twitter Russell Westbrook

It was, in a way, a classic Russell Westbrook showing in Game 1 of the Clippers’ win over the Suns in the Western Conference playoffs.

Westbrook dished out eight assists and had 11 rebounds, and after the game, declared, “At this position, humbly speaking, nobody’s a better rebounder than me.”

Westbrook also hurled up 19 shots and made, ahem, three of them. He did not declare that nobody’s a better shooter than him.

Westbrook made two free throws with 17.7 seconds to play, then made a crucial defensive play at the end to preserve the Clips’ win, blocking Phoenix’s Devin Booker at the rim and pushing the ball off Booker and out of bounds to give L.A. possession with 10 seconds to go.

And Westbrook continued his longtime crusade against fans of the league, as a viral video showed Westbrook apparently in the suite of a Phoenix fan at halftime, getting into an argument as a Clipper staffer stood by waiting to escort Westbrook out. The video showed no fisticuffs, but it did show one of the more bizarre postseason scenes in recent memory, Westbrook with his shirt rolled up, telling the fan to “watch your mouth.”

There were no fisticuffs, but Westbrook certainly broke player protocol. What’s unclear is how the league office will look at Westbrook’s action.

The NBA rule book states, “At halftime and the end of each game, the coach and his players are to leave the court and go directly to their dressing room, without pause or delay.” But that rule is aimed at preventing players from accosting referees during the break.

While incidents featuring players grabbing and tossing phones of fans—Jusuf Nurkic last year, Rodney Hood in 2018—warranted only fines for the players, going into the stands to go after a fan is a suspend-able offense.

And the Clippers are concerned. “Yeah, that was a surprise and it is something to worry about,” one source told Heavy Sports. “He was in the stands. That not only gets you knocked out for a game, it can get you two or three games. I don’t know how much it will matter that he did not go overboard and there was nothing physical. But now you’ve got to worry about a suspension.”

A good comparison: Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas approached a fan in the stands in Philadelphia in 2018, and though there was no physical confrontation, with Thomas only very calmly saying to the fan, “Don’t do that, man,” he still drew a two-game suspension. Check it out here, and see—Westbrook did much the same thing, except maybe a bit worse:

OG Anunoby in Demand?

As Heavy Sports’ Steve Bulpett reported last week, the Toronto Raptors are headed for an overhaul, possibly whether they like it or not. And while players like Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. can choose their own path with free-agent options, how the Raps rearrange themselves on the trade market is of most interest to folks around the NBA.

And on that front, a certain young forward will get the most attention—and it ain’t Pascal Siakam, the All-Star forward who averaged 24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists this year. It’s OG Anunoby.

“Wing defenders are at a huge premium, there are so few guys who can be a stopper on the wing and still make some shots and be a factor offensively, guys who can walk and chew gum,” one Eastern Conference GM told Heavy Sports. “OG can do that. He is still getting better. You’re gonna have to pay him after next year but he is on a good contract now.

“There might even be a better market for him than for Pascal because Pascal, you can see the holes in his game and he has the big contract ($37 million next season), and not many teams want to pay him that again when he is a free agent. Pascal is a No. 2 option, maybe even No. 3 on a championship team, but you have to pay him like a No. 1.”

Anunoby averaged 16.8 points, led the league in steals and is scheduled to make $18.6 million next season, with a player option for $19.9 million the following year. He almost certainly will opt out and be a free agent in 2024.

The market for Anunoby was hot at the trade deadline and should grow in the offseason, executives tell Heavy Sports. The Grizzlies, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, offered three first-round picks in a package for Anunoby, and it will take more than that to secure Anunoby this summer. Among the teams potentially looking to make a run at Anunoby: the Knicks, Warriors, Nets, Pistons and Pelicans.

“The Knicks are in a good position to really look at using the picks they have to get a wing defender who can solidify the rest of the roster,” the GM said. “And I’d look out for Detroit. Dwane Casey was OG’s first coach. They are going to look to get out of their rebuilding mode sooner rather than later and they have the assets to do it. New Orleans is in the same boat. The Warriors would have trouble making it happen but I know some of them on that staff really love OG.”

The Heat’s Oladipo Dilemma

Props to the Miami Heat for hanging 130 points on the Bucks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference series on Sunday, but it came at a price—a broken finger for key guard Tyler Herro, who averaged 20.1 points this season. The Heat are severely lacking in firepower without him.

This leads to a fair question: Will the Heat put wayward guard Victor Oladipo, whose offensive freelancing put him firmly into Spoelstra’s doghouse, back into the rotation?

“I don’t think so,” one Eastern Conference coach told Heavy Sports. “Erik Spoelstra can be stubborn, in a good way I think—he sticks to principles and it sets an example for everyone else. But you get into the playoffs and you’ve got to find ways to keep winning. This is on the front office for not doing anything to get Spo more depth, for coming into this year thinking they could catch lightning in a bottle and Vic to play great. That did not happen and it really is not much of a game plan to say, ‘Hey let’s hope we get lucky on this guy.’

“They stayed under the tax and they prioritized that, and anyone who has had to manage a team with an eye on the tax, you know how hard that can be. But they had opportunities to go out and get someone who could help, who could give you some depth and they let them all pass so they could stay under the tax. They needed backcourt depth and everyone knew it.”

The Heat did not get it, however And now, the team is left with either going to Oladipo, or to 3-point specialist Duncan Robinson (whose defense sent him out of the Heat rotation). Miami could also just try to squeeze more minutes out of its limited rotation.

“If you’re Spo, you’ve essentially got two cards to play, and you can either have your offense grind to a halt and let Oladipo play or have your defense get killed and have Robinson play,” the coach said. “Tough spot to be in.”



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