Free agent guard Russell Westbrook has agreed to a new two-year deal worth $7.8 million to stay with the L.A. Clippers, his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Basketball, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Saturday.
The deal includes a player option for Westbrook after the 2023-2024 season, Schwartz said, and clears the way for him to return as the franchise’s starting point guard. The Clippers were eager to get the nine-time All-Star back after a useful deadline post-trade as a starter.
The Clippers were only able to offer the 2016–17 MVP a $3.8 million non-bird exception, but after a short but difficult stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Los Angeles native was able to find a home with them in the second half of the season. found.
After the Clippers were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns in late April, Westbrook said, “One thing I tell you is I love it here.” “I love the people, the fans, who embrace not only me but also my family and close friends. I know, a lot of things have happened at the end of the year, but I’m grateful. I definitely Love living here.”
The Clippers are looking to upgrade their roster around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George via trade this summer. In addition to being interested in a potential deal for James Harden, the Clippers are among the teams interested in exploring a deal for Damian Lillard, sources told Wojnarowski on Saturday.
Westbrook exceeded all expectations after his stint with the Lakers, doing what the team didn’t expect when he teamed up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After a season and a half with the Lakers, Westbrook was traded at the February deadline to Utah, who bought him out.
George campaigned vigorously for the Clippers to sign his former Oklahoma City teammate after he became a free agent. With George, Leonard and head coach Ty Lue backing Westbrook, the Clippers signed him during the All-Star break.
With a clearly defined role by management and Lue, Westbrook averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 21 games. He shot a career-high 48.9% from the field and 35.6% from behind the arc in his limited time with the Clippers.
While George was out with injury, Westbrook helped the Clippers steal Game 1 in Phoenix with 11 rebounds, five coming on the offensive glass, and despite shooting 3-for-19 and finishing with nine points in the win. There was a critical juncture of late. When Leonard lost the series after Game 2 with a torn MCL, Westbrook scored 30 and 37 points in Games 3 and 4 before the Suns won five games.
With the Clippers plagued by injuries to Leonard and George since joining forces in LA during the summer of 2019, Westbrook has given the franchise something it desperately needed — availability. Leonard played in 52 games last regular season while George played in 56 but sprained his right knee and was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign.
George said in late April, “He’s played himself in the same juice as he was.” “We all knew he still had it… He brings so much to his team and I mean it’s amazing to watch him.
“I think he is the leader we need at the point guard position going forward and we would love to have him back.”
Lue said that after Westbrook’s play in the first round, he felt he was valid.
After the Clippers were shut out in Game 5, Lue said, “I hope everyone can see different teams.” .It has opened the eyes of a lot of teams, if he can go out there and actually get paid then give him a chance. But I definitely want him back.”
Westbrook, 34, was happy with the change of scenery and praised the Clippers, his fourth team after spending his first 11 seasons in Oklahoma City.
“A well-run organization from top to bottom,” Westbrook said in April. “Being in the league for a long time, you understand the value of the little things, the staff, the people they have there day in and day out to take care of the players. It’s something I’ve noticed from day one. “
“Not only this, but a happy and joyful atmosphere is something that you do not see everywhere. It is a pleasure to come to work, to be with people who really enjoy their job, what they are doing. That’s what we’re all trying to maintain as players, not only that, but making sure we have everything we need to be successful on the field.”