Russell Westbrook was interested in being traded to one Los Angeles team — and one Los Angeles team only.
The Wizards sent Westbrook to the Lakers this past offseason as part of a five-team trade, but it turns out there may have been another path out of Washington for the nine-time All-Star. In an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard declared that, while Westbrook didn’t demand a trade, he did shut down any conversations about joining the Clippers.
“I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard said. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”
There is some history between Westbrook and Clippers star Kawhi Leonard. Westbrook reached out to Leonard in the summer of 2019 about possibly playing together, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, but Leonard called Paul George, then a teammate of Westbrook on the Thunder, and told him that he would rather form a dynamic duo with him. The Clippers were also linked to Westbrook in November 2020.
This time around, though, there was no interest on either side. Westbrook had his eyes set on the Lakers, and acquiring Westbrook made little sense for the Clippers. They nearly reached the NBA Finals last season, and they likely want to see what they have once Leonard is fully recovered from a torn ACL.
While Westbrook only played one season in Washington, Sheppard expressed a deep appreciation for what he did both on and off the floor.
“I can’t say it enough that the footprints he put in here, it was just like when ‘Truth’ was here before that,” Sheppard said. “When Paul Pierce came through, his impact on this organization top to bottom was profound and I can’t thank Russell enough.”
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