When Russell Westbrook was reportedly on the trading block at the end of July, there was some speculation that the LA Clippers could swing a deal for the former MVP. Before Westbrook arrived in Washington, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor linked him to the Clippers. This speculation kicked back up once Westbrook became available again this summer; however, ESPN's Zach Lowe said the Clippers were never actually interested.
On a recent edition of his podcast, Lowe said that "The Clippers were never interested in Russell Westbrook... They were a rumored Russell Westbrook trade in a few places whenever that happened. They were never interested. That was never a real thing. I think they value their optionality too much."
With the Clippers steering clear of Westbrook, the door was left open for the Lakers to complete a deal for him. The Lakers ultimately sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the 22nd overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft to Washington in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook is one of the league's most polarizing players; however, he proved at times last season that he can still play at an elite level. In 65 games for the Wizards last year, Westbrook once again averaged a triple-double, putting up 22.2 PPG, 11.5 RPG, and a league-leading 11.7 APG. Alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook has make the Lakers clear favorites in the Western Conference next season.
Plugging Westbrook directly into Ty Lue's offense would have likely created an offensive juggernaut, but that is not the situation the Clippers were in a position to create. Because Westbrook is still owed $91M over the next two seasons, this was not a situation where a player had been bought out and got to choose their next destination for free. If the Clippers wanted to acquire Westbrook, they would have needed to send out a significant amount of salary.
Similar to the package it would take to acquire John Wall, which Zach Lowe also says is a situation the Clippers have no interest in, dealing for Westbrook would have left the Clippers more depleted than rejuvenated. The Clippers' front office preferred to let the Lakers take on Westbrook, while retaining all of their free agents that helped them reach their first Western Conference Finals in franchise history.