The Los Angeles Lakers had one primary goal at the NBA trade deadline: trade Russell Westbrook. Rob Pelinka was able to do just that and all things considered, he hit a home run with the move itself. Los Angeles built a younger and more talented roster for a very cheap cost compared to what teams gave up in other moves.
Westbrook took some time to consider his options moving forward as it was clear that the Utah Jazz really had no interest in playing with him. Finally, Westbrook made the decision over the break to agree to a contract buyout with Utah and sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
This in itself is hilarious for Lakers fans, who get to watch Clippers fans talk themselves into Russ the same way that they did 18 months ago. Not only that, it keeps Westbrook close in proximity to the Lake Show, making him one of the most hated rivals for the entire fanbase.
But there is one more added wrinkle to this signing that is the cherry on top. Not only are the Clippers bringing in Westbrook but they are asking him to do something that the Lakers didn’t even ask him to do this season: start basketball games.
Lakers fans know how this Russell Westbrook story will end for the Clippers.
The writing is already on the wall. Westbrook will start on the bench as he gets acclimated and then they will eventually give him a chance to start. He will put up decent box score numbers but make several key mistakes in crunch time, eventually prompting Ty Lue to realize that this is not a great idea and pull back a bit on Westbrook.
That will upset Westbrook, who seemingly still thinks he is one of the best players in the league. Just like he did with the Lakers, he won’t take too kindly to this kind of demotion and all of the same locker room issues that arose will arise with the Clippers.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this entire transaction is that the Clippers already had their version of Westbrook this season. The team brought in John Wall and could not wait to get him out of town at the deadline.
Westbrook is just another version of Wall — an athletic point guard who is used to a high usage rate that doesn’t play much defense and cannot shoot. All of the same issues that Wall gave the Clippers will resurface with Westbrook.
But that is for them to find out in real time, which is going to be even tougher considering the team has the hardest strength of schedule in the Western Conference in the second half. All Lakers fans can do is sit back and laugh.