Salary constraints involving the Clippers may create a situation where veteran point guard Russell Westbrook signs elsewhere as a free agent this offseason, as suggested by Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
Westbrook, 34, had a strong showing with the Clippers in the playoffs, and did a decent job coming off the bench with the Lakers before that. But as Pincus pointed out, the Clippers don’t own his rights, and that could make him look to move on.
As always, much would depend on outside offers.
“(The Clippers) are capable of paying him just 120 percent above the minimum,” Pincus wrote. “Given L.A.’s massive payroll and incoming rule changes, the team won’t have its taxpayer mid-level exception ($5 million starting salary). Westbrook could re-sign and wait a year for early Bird rights that could pay in the $12 million range in 2024. Instead, look for Westbrook to seek an opportunity elsewhere on a team with cap space or a non-taxpayer mid-level exception (roughly $12.2 million).”
Pincus went on to list the Bulls, Hornets, Timberwolves, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Raptors, Wizards and Nets as teams that have the potential cap space to make a run at Westbrook if he chooses to go elsewhere.
The Bulls, Hornets, Knicks and Nets were all linked to Westbrook ahead of the February trade deadline. He was eventually sent to the Jazz, had his contract bought out, then signed with the Clippers.
“The cap-space teams may not be as likely to target the 34-year-old guard,” Pincus added.
Westbrook averaged 15.9 points, 7.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds in 73 games combined with the Clippers and Lakers, shooting 44 percent from the field and 31 percent on 3-pointers.
The Clippers were eliminated by the Suns in five games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Latest @BleacherReport 2023 NBA Free Agency: Best Available Guards and Their Top Landing Spots — Part I of IIIhttps://t.co/yOS8hdxBJE
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) May 3, 2023
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