The LA Clippers want Russell Westbrook to be himself after a rough fit on the Lakers
Russell Westbrook was introduced as a member of the LA Clippers for the first time on Wednesday night, and expressed a real level of excitement for this new opportunity. After being traded from the Los Angeles Lakers and bought out by the Utah Jazz, Westbrook signed with the Clippers to join Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in their pursuit of a championship.
Clippers head coach Ty Lue also addressed the media on Wednesday, and was asked several questions about Westbrook’s role. An underlying theme from Lue’s comments is that Westbrook provides much of what the Clippers need.
“If he’s doing too much or not enough, I’ll let him know,” Lue said. “But we want him to be the player that he is, the MVP, the Hall-of-Famer, everything he brings every single night. We want him to be that person, that player. And then we’ve just got to make sure that it’s in the confines of our team and what we’re trying to do team-wise.”
Lue was asked about Westbrook’s ability to play off the ball, and quickly emphasized that he will have the ball in his hands as well.
“You don’t average a triple-double without having the ball in your hands,” Lue said. “We know he can make plays and make the right plays. The biggest thing is, when he is off the ball, what we’re going to do with him, how we’re going to use him. It’s going to take a little time. When you’re the MVP of the league and a Hall-of-Famer, you’ve got to change your game in some areas. So we’ve got to help him.”
Lue made sure to acknowledge that it will take time to fully integrate Westbrook into what the Clippers want to do; however, that does not mean the team expects him to change what makes him great. As Lue repeatedly emphasized, the team wants him to be who he is.
“It’s going to take a little time,” Lue said. “Because you’ve been used to playing a certain way, a certain style of basketball your whole career, and that’s what makes him Russell Westbrook. So we don’t want to take that away from him at all. But when he is off the ball, just finding things he can do off the ball that impacts the game and impacts winning and impacts our team, as well. So we will do that.”
Finally, Lue spoke on the specific areas of Westbrook’s game that will help the Clippers on a nightly basis. From his passing to his pace and downhill ability, Westbrook projects to elevate a Clippers team that has looked very slow at times this season.
“I would say there are things that he can help our team that we need as far as passing, as far as pace, getting into the paint, downhill attacks,” Lue said when asked what areas Westbrook can help in. “We need those things every single night. He brings a lot of things that we can use. I’m focused on the things he brings every single night.”