Six teams in approximately six seasons. That is the summary of the past few seasons of the 2017 MVP, Russell Westbrook. After being traded to the Utah Jazz at the trade deadline, there are questions such as: “Where could Russ fit and what role would he take on with his new team?”. The lingering question, however, is “What team that will actually be?”. Westbrook does have a few options if he chooses to go the buyout route, but as of today, he’s still weighing his options and seeing which teams would be the best fit for his talents.
Across the hall
The Clippers were a name that was in the forefront as a team that could pick up the former MVP, since his trade became official with a potential buyout looming. Westbrook has a history with Clippers’ All-Star, Paul George, as they were a duo in Oklahoma City for two seasons. George has also been extremely vocal in his desire to potentially bring Westbrook in as their new floor general after trading away Reggie Jackson and waiving John Wall.
Adding Westbrook next to two dynamic perimeter-centric shot creators could be the right situation for him. There is plenty of potential for Westbrook to flourish in spacing with his slashing and playmaking abilities. There’s no question that the team and fans alike will embrace Russ, considering how things ended with the team across the hall. There is just an aura of uncertainty surrounding Westbrooks’ willingness to even play for his hometown again. Basketball wise, the Clippers seem to fit Westbrook like a glove, but mentally no one is truly sure if he’d welcome a return to LA.
Windy City Westbrook
Another team that had serious buzz on picking up Westbrook is oddly..the Chicago Bulls. Westbrook does have a history with the current head coach Billy Donovan as Donovan was the head coach for the Thunder from 2015-2020.
From a roster standpoint, Westbrook in the Windy City makes sense. With the Bulls current starting point guard, Lonzo Ball, still struggling with a knee issue that has ailed him since last season and kept him out of action, the Bulls are looking to bolster their play from that position.
From a strictly basketball standpoint however, there is some mystery. The Bulls currently have the 23rd ranked offense in the entire association according to NBA.com. This begs the question as to whether Westbrooks addition will help or hurt the Bulls even more on that side of the ball. The spacing isn’t ideal with DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic shoring up the mid-range and post areas which is where Westbrook likes to operate the most.
South Beach Brodie
Embracing the famed “Heat culture” is also a very viable option for Westbrook. Three seasons out of an NBA Finals appearance, the Heat have hit a bit of a wall this season and have had trouble building consistency through this 2023 campaign.
Point guard play is at the root of this as Kyle Lowry has struggled with injuries in both of his seasons in South Beach. But, when he is on the floor he leaves much to be desired and this led to Miami actively shopping him near the deadline, but ultimately keeping him on the roster. Since Lowry hasn’t contributed much since arriving, it would seem that Russ would be a great option to replace him in the starting point guard spot. GM Pat Riley isn’t a stranger to swinging big and bringing in a former MVP to the squad via the buyout. This could be just what the Heat need to build some momentum during the second half of the season.
Of course, there is also the possibility that Westbrook could very well stay in Salt Lake City. There’s credence that Russ could be an amazing addition as a veteran who’s experienced success for this young Jazz squad. Adding Westbrook to a team with budding young All-Star, Lauri Markkanen, can make for some extremely entertaining and explosive offense. There are also very few teams that have the personnel to slow up a Westbrook/Sexton fast break. Add Jordan Clarkson to the mix as a volume shooter, and the Jazz could become dangerous in the play-in if they hold on to the number ten spot they possess now.
After accepting a bench role early this season with the Lakers, Westbrook has shown that he can still contribute at a high level. At the time of his trade, Russ was in the mix and arguably in the lead for the 6th Man of the Year Award. It’s abundantly clear that Russ has plenty left in the tank, but L.A. was a horrible move for him that brought his weaknesses even more in the spotlight.
Hopefully, whether he stays put in Utah or chooses to play elsewhere, Russell Westbrook ends up in a place that could revitalize his career and show the association that he still deserves to be a major contributor in the league.
Photo By David Zalubowski/AP Images