The Los Angeles Clippers have a laundry list of things to tend to this offseason, and Russell Westbrook’s free agency is one of them. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Tyronn Lue pitched adding Westbrook to the front office, and the results were fruitful.

Russell Westbrook joined the team a few days after the trade deadline, holding a press conference in Los Angeles one day before his Clippers debut against the Sacramento Kings. There were a lot of question marks surrounding Westbrook’s addition at the time: How would be fit alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George? How open is he to a reduced role? How does this affect the rest of the team with 21 regular season games remaining.

It took some times to adjust to, but the Clippers saw Westbrook bring a lot both on and off the court, which is why President of Basketball Operations Lawrence Frank says the team would like to bring him back.

“Yeah, we want to bring Russell back,” Frank said during Thursday’s end-of-season press conference with members of the media. “I give him a ton of credit and I think it’s a great example of when you have a trust in your partnership. T-Lue, PG, and Kawhi advocated strongly for Russ. We sat down, we discussed it, we sat down with Russ, Ty Lue, and myself. And we’ve feel really, really good for what Russ able to do and you guys get to see what he brings on the floor.”

Westbrook The Clippers had a front-loaded schedule, with the majority of their days off coming in March. With five sets of two-day breaks, the veteran-laden Clippers team held practices that head coach Tyronn Lue said were taken a lot more serious because of Russell Westbrook’s intensity.

“We had these last six, seven practices of just being going hard, live practices, which I don’t really agree with this late in the season, but we needed it,” Tyronn Lue said back in March. “I don’t think those practices would have been as good if he wasn’t here. Like he brings it every single day. His energy, it’s infectious and he practices hard every day and then he plays hard every day. So in practices like for our veteran guys to get going, I think he really helps the morale and so it’s been huge for us.”

Lawrence Frank said Westbrook also brought a great energy off the court, which became infectious for the man previously considered a ‘vampire.’

“He brings a great energy and spirit every single day to the team around the building. And it’s good because it filled something that we needed and love when guys get second chances and just knock out of the park. And we’ve had now we’ve been very fortunate. If you think you go back to when we brought Reggie here, Nico and now Russ it, it’s great to see talented people who have a track record of high quality play.”

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George certainly want Russell Westbrook back. He’ll will have his choice of suitors this offseason, but expressed his desire to be back with the Clippers after a great time in Los Angeles.

“This will be probably my first time actually in my career being able to make situations, make a decision,” Westbrook said after the Game 5 loss. “One thing I do tell you is that I love it here. I love the people, just the fans overall embracing not just me but my family and close friends. I know, end of the year, a lot of things have happened, but I’m grateful. I definitely love being here.

“As far as making a decision, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I don’t really know my process because it’s kind of my first time doing this. So we’ll see what happens.”

With the feeling between both sides mutual and a need for both sides to be partnered once again, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see a deal done shortly into free agency.

“Obviously Russ is one of the Top 75, first ballot Hall-of-Famer, and he adapted,” Lawrence Frank added. “He basically said, ‘Hey, what do you need from me? What can I give to you?’ And when you come in with that approach, and he had to be highly adaptable because the role that we described to him when we sat down became totally different than what it was at the end. And he was willing to adapt along the way. I know, see Lou loved coaching him. Our guys loved having him as a teammate.

“So we’d love to bring Russ back, but he’s a free agent and that that’ll be obviously a choice he’s earned.”

Russell Westbrook played all 21 regular games for the Clippers since joining, averaging 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game on 48.9 percent shooting from the field and 35.6 percent from three.

In five playoff appearances with L.A., Westbrook averaged 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game on 41 percent shooting from the field and 35.7 percent from three. He came up huge with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sidelined due to injury.

Teams can begin negotiating contracts with free agents on June 30, 2023 and deals can be signed on July 6, 2023. Since Westbrook is a member of the Clippers, the team has the ability to negotiate a deal with Westbrook, but can’t sign a deal until July 6th.


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