Well, all of the pressure that players and coaching staff put on the Clippers front office seems to have worked, as today Adrian Wojnarowski dropped the news that the Clippers will sign Russell Westbrook after he completes his buyout from the Utah Jazz.

I don’t think I need to go into all of Russell Westbrook’s history, but suffice to say he is one of the most divisive players in modern NBA history. This season, he has averaged 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 7.5 assists in 28.7 minutes per game (almost entirely off the bench) – a lot of production. That is counterweighed by 3.5 turnovers, an abysmal 49.6 True Shooting%, and inconsistent at best defense.

In the ESPN piece, it mentioned that Ty Lue and Lawrence Frank talked to Russ about his willingness to fill a clear role “built around his playmaking, rebounding, and toughness”. To be clear, the Clippers could use all of those things. In an ideal world, Russell Westbrook could provide those attributes in a limited role, particularly when only one of PG or Kawhi Leonard is on the floor, and would not play major minutes or close games for the Clippers.

The issue is that the combination of Russ’s personality, Ty Lue’s coaching style, and Russ’ legendary status (plus his rightful reputation among peers) means that I think it’s highly likely he will be overplayed. If Russ is starting games (even over Marcus Morris) or closing them, or playing more than 20 minutes per game consistently, I think he will cause more harm than good.

The reasons why are simple, and they’re why the Lakers were so desperate to move on from him – he can’t shoot, making him an awful fit next to on-ball superstars like Kawhi and Paul George, but also requires the ball in his hands. The argument that he will fit better on the Clippers because of their shooting might be correct, but that’s under the assumption that the Clippers will tailor their play when Russ is on the court to fit “Russ-ball”. Considering his awful efficiency and high turnovers, as well as the effectiveness of Norm Powell (and even Eric Gordon), adjusting to fit Russ rather than the other way around seems like a bad idea.

The one player who I think I’d be fine with Russ taking minutes from is Marcus Morris. If the Clippers bump Morris from the rotation, slide in Eric Gordon to start, and then play Russ off the bench alongside Norm, Nic Batum, and Mason Plumlee, things might not be a total disaster. But if instead, Russ is drawing minutes primarily from Norm, Gordon, and Terance Mann – all better players and better fits due to shooting – things will go south in a hurry.

I admire the intensity that Russell Westbrook plays at. He’s a genuinely great guy off the court. He is an absolute, no-doubt, first-ballot Hall of Famer. There are things he provides on the court that the Clippers could use. However, skepticisms about his fit with PG and Kawhi due to his lack of shooting and on-ball nature of play, his mostly poor defense, and the likelihood that Ty Lue will overplay him makes me think this is a negative move that could torpedo whatever chances the Clippers had.

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