Sunday, October 1 2023

The LA Clippers‘ season came to an end with their Game 5 loss in the first round to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, but bright days might be ahead for Russell Westbrook.

The 2017 NBA MVP seemed to repair at least some of the perception around him after joining the Clippers in the buyout market in late February. Westbrook scored 15.8 points per game while shooting 48.9% from the field, adding 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game in the 21 games he started during the regular season.

Westbrook was able to continue some of that solid play in the postseason, where he averaged 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists. While he shot 3-of-19 from the field in Game 1, Westbrook made a few hustle plays down the stretch that helped the Clippers win the game.

When Kawhi Leonard missed the final three games of the series, Westbrook stepped up in Games 3 and 4, scoring 30 and 37 points, respectively, to give the Clippers a chance in both games before losing. Westbrook shot 3-of-18 from the field in the series-deciding Game 5 loss, but the Clippers performed better with him on the court than with him on the bench.

Clippers coach Ty Lue praised Westbrook’s effort in the playoffs and is hoping that he doesn’t depart the team this offseason.

“Bringing Russ here really, really saved our season as far as making the playoffs, having this run we had in the playoffs,” Lue said. He really saved us. Hats off to Russ for bringing it every single night.

“Hopefully guys can see that Russ still has a lot left in the tank. Hopefully, he’s back with us next year. Then again, this has opened eyes for a lot of the teams, give him an opportunity if he can go out there and really get paid. But I want him back for sure.”


Westbrook had similar thoughts, saying “I love it here” when asked about his upcoming free agency. 

FOX Sports’ Shannon Sharpe agreed with Lue on his assessment of Westbrook. He believes that the way Westbrook played with the Clippers “was absolutely different” from the way he played over his two seasons with the Lakers, believing expectations for both teams played a role in that.

Because of that, Sharpe thinks Westbrook should want to remain with the Clippers.

“I think they should bring him back,” Sharpe said on Wednesday’s “Undisputed.” The question is if someone is going to offer him more money to bring him elsewhere. I think this is the best situation. Sometime’s money’s not the end all, be all. I think Russ has made a lot of money. Now, I believe he’s found a home.”

Sharpe thinks that Westbrook elevated the Clippers’ floor over the last few weeks, and that could be valuable to the team moving forward.

“He played well,” Sharpe said. “I do believe the Clippers should bring him back — given the help of Kawhi Leonard, given the help of Paul George. Why not? Their season would’ve been over a long, long time ago with both of those guys [hurt]. When Paul George went down, he and Kawhi played really, really well. When Kawhi went down, he still played really, really well.”

Russell Westbrook shoots 3-for-18 in elimination game

Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless discussed the Clippers’ season-ending loss and Russell Westbrook’s future on “Undisputed.”

Skip Bayless, on the other hand, disagreed with Lue’s assessment that Westbrook saved the Clippers’ season, noting the point guard’s poor shooting splits in the past and his playoff-high 20 turnovers as two reasons why he wouldn’t bring him back. He also recalled where the Clippers sat in the standings when they added Westbrook.

“The Clippers were 33-28 and sitting in the four seed in the West,” Bayless said. “They were just a couple of games back of the three seed. I was thinking at that time they were pretty good because Terance Mann was on a tear for Terance Mann. I liked the look of the team. … But Russ walked in the door and they lost five-straight games. By the end of the year, their 21-game stretch with Russ was 11-10. And guess what? They fell a rung. They went from four to five and that lost them home-court advantage against Phoenix. 

“He saved your season how? He saved your playoff respect because he gave you a chance to compete with a much better team by just coming to play every night.”

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