Clippers head of basketball operations Lawrence Frank left no doubt about the team’s feelings for point guard Russell Westbrook, who enters free agency this summer.
Per Andrew Grief of the LA Times, Frank said the Clippers want Westbrook back next season.
This echoes sentiments from forward Paul George, who has also proclaimed to be a big fan of Westbrook. Without question, Westbrook played his basketball in years after landing with the Clippers (via the Lakers and Jazz) after the February trade deadline.
As for Westbrook’s feelings, there is a strong sense he will at least test free agency and see what type of offers are out there. But it seems as if the Clippers would most certainly have the edge.
Lawrence Frank says the Clippers want Russell Westbrook back on the team next season.
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) April 27, 2023
“You know what, this will be probably my first time actually in my career being able to make a decision,” Westbrook told reporters after the Clippers were eliminated by the Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
“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 a lot of things have happened [this season], 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.”
Both George and forward Kawhi Leonard ended the season on the sidelines, with Leonard suffering a torn MCL. His future with the Clippers and even in the NBA seems cloudy at the moment.
Will that impact Westbrook’s decision as an unrestricted free agent? We are about to find out.
Westbrook, 34, averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds with the Clippers. Those numbers weren’t far off from his averages in 52 games with the Lakers this season.
“We want to bring Russell back. It’s a great example of when you have a trust in your partnership,’ Frank told reporters. “(Coach Tyronn Lue), PG, Kawhi advocated strongly for Russ. He brings a great energy and spirit to the team, around the building.”