With the Washington Wizards on the verge of hitting the reset button, many believe that both Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal will be in different jerseys when the NBA returns this fall. In this hypothetical trade, Bleacher Report's Dan Favale has Westbrook going to the Clippers.
Favale makes it clear in the beginning of his article that his trade proposals are not predictions, but rather alternative landing spots for the league's most rumored trade targets. Westbrook is certainly atop the list of the NBA's most likely trade candidates, and while the Wizards are waiting for Bradley Beal to make an official decision on his future, a trade request from Beal would almost certainly be met by one from Westbrook.
With Reggie Jackson likely to command a contract outside of the Clippers' budget this off-season, the team may once again be left without a starting point guard. While Patrick Beverley is still under contract for the 2021-22 NBA season, and possesses more playmaking ability than he is given credit for, he played his best basketball in the playoffs when he was alongside a primary ball-handler. With Reggie Jackson perhaps on the move, and Rajon Rondo's best days behind him, the Clippers could be greatly benefited by a player of Westbrook's caliber.
Plugging Russell Westbrook into this current Clippers team would make them exponentially better, but it is important to remember that Westbrook is still owed $91M over the next two seasons. This is not a situation where a player has been bought out and gets to choose their next destination for free. If the Clippers want to acquire Westbrook, they must send out a significant amount of salary.
In Favale's hypothetical trade, he has the framework of a Westbrook to the Clippers trade beginning with the expiring contracts of Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Serge Ibaka, along with young sniper Luke Kennard. This would be enough outgoing salary for the Clippers to fit Westbrook into the cap, but would the Wizards be interested in such a deal?
If Washington were to accept this hypothetical offer from the Clippers, it would signify their priority of shedding salary and maintaining cap flexibility beyond the 2021-22 season. With Westbrook being owed $91M over the next two seasons, this could be a significant enough motivation for the Wizards to pull the trigger; however, they may receive a more competitive offer from a team such as the Lakers.
On Wednesday, is was reported by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have been in pursuit of a veteran point guard this summer. Spears reported that both Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were potential candidates for the Lakers. The Westbrook to the Lakers report received an update on Saturday morning when NBA reporter Austin Krell revealed that the Lakers had developed some traction in their pursuit of Russell Westbrook.
The reported deal that the Lakers were willing to offer Washington was centered around Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, and Talen Horton-Tucker. The combination of Kuzma and Horton-Tucker could be of more interest to the Wizards than the Clippers' offer of expiring contracts and Luke Kennard. If this were indeed the case, Favale suggests that the Clippers could include whoever they draft 25th overall in an attempt to upgrade their offer for Westbrook.
Russell Westbrook has led the NBA in assists three of the last four seasons, with his 11.4 APG clip last year topping his previous career best of 10.7 in 2019. Alongside a Clippers' team that is loaded with some of the league's best shooters, Westbrook would absolutely thrive in Ty Lue's offense; however, the price looks like it will end up being more expensive than the return is worth.
Russell Westbrook proved last year that he is still an impactful player player, which is why he is reportedly being pursued by some of the league's top contenders; however, the Clippers will likely be unable to field an offer for Russ that is both beneficial to them and attractive to the Wizards.