Two Clippers agree: Russell Westbrook can be an excellent match

In feedback that exposed variations in how some Clippers gamers worth the function of a standard level guard versus the staff’s entrance workplace, All-Star wing Paul George and beginning ahead Marcus Morris Sr. on Friday mentioned the staff wanted so as to add a pure level guard and brazenly campaigned for Russell Westbrook.

The former Lakers guard, who was traded to Utah days earlier, has but to be purchased out by the Jazz, however George mentioned he had been in touch with Westbrook because the commerce to verify on his former teammate in Oklahoma City.

Asked after Friday’s 119-106 loss to Milwaukee, which dropped the Clippers to 31-28, whether or not the staff wanted a standard level guard, George mentioned sure earlier than, unprompted, he talked about Westbrook by identify.

“If there’s you know, somebody out there — Russell — you know, if it makes sense and obviously it goes with our team, we’re all for it,” George mentioned. “We need a point guard. But you know, in the same, I think we’re good as well if nothing happened, I think we got enough in this locker room to be able to make it work but you know, it would definitely improve our team if we had that traditional point guard, to kind of get us in things and make the game easy.

“So hopefully Russell sees this and, you know, we figure something out.”

The feedback got here in the future after the Clippers traded John Wall and Reggie Jackson, two gamers coach Tyronn Lue stored in his rotation all through the season expressly as a result of they match the function of what Lue also known as a “traditional point guard” he trusted to arrange the offense in crunch time.

The Clippers have one roster spot obtainable. Lawrence Frank, the staff’s president of basketball operations, mentioned Friday it’s his intuition to be affected person earlier than deciding how, or whether or not, to fill it. Players should be waived earlier than March 1 to be eligible to play within the postseason.

Read also  Bishop Brooks powers Taft to victory over King/Drew in playoffs

The league’s most useful participant in 2016-17 and all-time chief in triple-doubles, Westbrook endured a rocky season and a half with the Lakers whereas capturing 43% total, together with 29% on three-point makes an attempt this season. George, who produced the very best statistical season of his profession alongside Westbrook in Oklahoma City in 2018-19, acknowledged he was biased towards his former teammate’s skills, believing Westbrook would match higher with the Clippers due to the staff’s capturing.

“We can run with him and that’s kind of our game is spacing the floor,” George mentioned. “I know that’s my game, spacing the floor for being a shooter on the perimeter and then just running with him in transition — I think that’s what we can complement him [with]. We got a bunch of guys that fit that play style as well for myself, Kawhi [Leonard], Norm [Powell], [Terance] Mann, and quite honestly we need somebody. You know, it sucked that John [Wall] didn’t work but what John brought is what we need: a guy that can get up and down the floor … and get us some easy baskets in transition.”

Asked what Leonard, who didn’t play Friday, considered Westbrook, George indicated he “likes it.”

Morris, in the meantime, mentioned Westbrook “hasn’t had an opportunity to play on a team where he could be himself and be able to play freely,” and believed the guard had shouldered unfair criticism for his Lakers tenure.

“I want him to come,” Morris mentioned. “I think that you can’t kill a wounded dog. You give him an opportunity to come back, it could be dangerous.”

Read also  Bears give LB Tremaine Edmunds $72 million contract

At the commerce deadline the Clippers added former Denver guard Bones Hyland and Houston guard Eric Gordon, each of whom Frank praised for becoming the profile the staff desires from its backcourt: sturdy play on every finish of the court docket, with perimeter capturing to maintain defenders trustworthy round Leonard and George.

The staff believes Hyland and Mann, the incumbent start line guard, may match that standards higher than potential choices on the buyout market. As a end result folks across the league not approved to talk publicly on the matter expressed skepticism about the necessity to signal Westbrook.

Neither Gordon, Hyland nor Mann matches the archetype of the normal level guard function Lue has clearly valued and sought to maintain in his rotation.

“It is what it is,” Lue mentioned. “It’s my job to make sure I put it together the right way so it works. [Frank] and those guys did the best they could to try to figure it out. It didn’t happen and that’s no excuse. So now we just got to make sure we put it together the right way, and that’s on me.”

Frank on Friday echoed a stance on level guards that he made public one yr in the past, too: that the archetype of the pass-first level guard might be outdated, with the staff preferring gamers who possess the flexibility to distribute regardless of their place. Frank cited examples of how Milwaukee, Golden State and Boston have created elite offenses organized by gamers who don’t match the standard definition of some extent guard.

The few that do match the invoice are exhausting to accumulate, Frank mentioned. The Clippers haven’t been proof against making an attempt up to now, with blended outcomes. In 2020, Jackson was signed after Detroit purchased out his contract. A yr later they traded for Rajon Rondo, whose manufacturing underwhelmed. And final summer season they signed Wall for his jolt of velocity in transition, however he struggled together with his leap shot.

Read also  Rams reportedly anticipated to commerce Jalen Ramsey

The Clippers “obviously were having conversations with ‘true point guards’ ” earlier than the deadline, Frank mentioned, however he felt comfy with the place they landed, citing Hyland’s electrical scoring and Gordon’s powerful protection and court-spacing capturing.

“I guess the question is, would you rather have a backup point guard who has limitations in other areas, or would you rather have a better player who’s going to be in your top eight” of a playoff rotation, Frank mentioned.

“…When you really study the league, the term point guard is a very, very vague term, so to me what you do is build your team around your best players and get complementary skill sets. Because let’s say we had a ball-dominant point guard who had other limitations. Well, how does that impact your stars?”

George and Morris made clear their conviction {that a} conventional level guard would optimize their offense.

“He’s one of the greatest players that ever played the game,” Morris mentioned of Westbrook. “And you know, it’s funny how — and he plays all the time — but it’s funny how like people just like try to down his career after having like … I mean Lakers didn’t win, so it’s not like he’s having the off year. The whole damn team is having an off year.

“So it’s not like it’s just him. So, you know what I’m saying? Like I said, man, we’ll take him. We’ll love him. We’re open arms, come on and let’s try to get to the championship.”