Every few weeks since the season began, a hot rumor flares up on NBA Twitter that the LA Clippers will acquire Russell Westbrook in a trade with the Washington Wizards. Neither team has had a recent chat about it, but with the trade deadline looming next week, we have to wonder will the Clippers and Wizards engage in a serious talk about Westbrook?
The Clippers (26-15) survived the February doldrums with an 8-7 record. They crash-landed into the All-Star break with a three-game losing streak. During their mini-skid, the Phoenix Suns leapfrogged them and moved into the #2 seed in the Western Conference playoff standings. The Clippers, meanwhile, slipped to #4.
“I’m not discouraged,” said head coach Ty Lue. “Because we have shown what we can do and we can play at a high level.”
“It’s about the right team peaking at the right time,” said Kawhi Leonard. “I don’t think we’ve even gotten there yet. It feels like we’re getting close, but we just need guys to get healthy.”
Clippers Need to Tighten Up … Fast
Since the All-Star break, the Clippers won two out of three games. They came out of the break with a 130-104 blow-out win over the Golden State Warriors, Then, they were beat down by Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans 135-115 over the weekend. The loss sent up red flags.
“It’s very concerning,” said Kawhi. “To have a chance at anything, you gotta be consistent. Great teams do that, they’re consistent. Everyone has their nights when, you know, the energy’s not there. But, it’s all about consistency. A consistency of being, wanting to win, and doing pretty much the same habits of winning.”
“Teams are going at us, and we got to put up more resistance,” said Lue. “And that’s from everyone. Until we do that, you are going to have games like this. But we got to do it every single night. We can’t keep talking about it. We got to f—ing to do it.”
The Clippers corrected the ship with a 109-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, but they can’t shake those Westbrook trade rumors.
Wizards No Trade Zone?
Bradley Beal indicated that he wants to spend the rest of his career with the Washington Wizards. Despite all the Beal trade rumors (insert any team here _____), Beal is in the “no trade zone” for the Wizards. Westbrook is a different story though, and the Wizards are open to any trade offers.
After a rough stint with the Houston Rockets as James Harden’s wingman, Westbrook looked like his old self with the Wizards, including a 42-point monstrous triple-double on Sunday. He’s almost averaging a triple-double this season with 21.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 10.1 assists per game. He’s ranked second in the NBA in assists behind Harden.
Westbrook and Beal are a dangerous tandem, despite speculation that the two would clash. Beal and Wall butted heads often, which is one of the reasons the Wiz sent Wall to Houston in a trade for Westbrook.
Westbrook will have to modify his game once again to fit in with the Clippers. They already have a pair of alphas with Paul George and Kawhi, but can they handle another major ego? The Clippers need a consistent third-scoring option, aside from Kawhi (26.4 ppg) and George (22.9 ppg). Sixth Man Lou Williams, the team’s third-best scorer at 12.4 ppg, struggled this season. He’s down from his career marks (19.2 ppg) with the Clips.
The big elephant in the room everyone ignores is that the Clippers also need a potential secondary-scorer if George slumps in the postseason or falls into a funk. If the Clippers pull the trigger on a trade for Westbrook, they can give Kawhi additional rest down the stretch and have Russell as a hedge for an emo PG-13.
On Deck: Luka and LaMelo
The Clippers complete a two-game stand against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks (20-18) on Wednesday. LaMelo Ball returns home to SoCal with the Charlotte Hornets (20-18) to play the LA Clippers on Saturday.
Next week, Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks (19-20) come to Hollywood. Later next week, the Clippers hit the road and head to Texas for back-to-back games against the San Antonio Spurs (20-16).
The Clippers are the third-highest team on the NBA futures board at +550 odds to win the 2021 NBA Championship. You can back the Clippers at +250 odds to win the Western Conference. The Lakers, Clippers, and Phoenix Suns are in a three-way dog fight to win the Pacific Division. The Clippers are a slight favorite to win the Pacific at +140 odds, with the Lakers at +150 and the Suns at +300.
Check out more NBA Trade Rumors.