The Utah Jazz maybe should’ve kept Russell Westbrook after all.
The Utah Jazz landed Russell Westbrook last season in a deal that saw the Jazz also acquire
Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and a 2027 1st-round pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. As part of the deal, the Lakers got back D’Angelo Russell from the Timberwolves, as well as Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt from the Jazz.
Lastly, the Timberwolves got Mike Conley from Utah, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and three second-round picks (a 2024 second-round pick from LA and a 2025 and 2026 second-rounder from Utah).
Despite trading a point guard in Conley and needing one back, the Jazz opted not to keep Westbrook and subsequently released him. He’d end up landing on the Los Angeles Clippers, who just fell to the Jazz last week in their first regular season encounter of the season.
And after watching the point guard play for the first three games of the Jazz’s season; maybe keeping Westbrook was the right call. A call Westbrook wouldn’t have minded. Telling the LA Times;
"I would have come in and did whatever they asked me to do. I told them I could be a mentor. Whatever I needed to do to help, I would have done it. Like always I do whatever is best for the team. If that’s to come and sit my ass there in street clothes and make sure I help the young guys, I’ll do that."
And while he may enjoy being with the Clippers, Westbrook would’ve been a welcomed asset; especially to start the 2023-2024 season. Yes, Westbrook isn’t great on defense and his three-point shooting is as successful as hydrogen in a blimp, but he can pass well, and he’s super efficient inside.
Through three games in the ’23-’24 season, Westbrook is shooting 60% from the floor, while hitting a respectable but not sustaintable, 50% from three. He’s also averaging nearly seven assists per game and over seven rebounds per game.
His defense has slid in recent years, but he’s still a better perimeter player than someone like Talen Horton-Tucker and absolutely a standout compared to Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton. He would slow the development of Keyonte George some, as their play styles are basically the same, but he’d be a sure thing at point guard, which is something the team is lacking.
Hopefully, the team finds someone who can fortify the spot because after three games, we’re not sure if the team has the right guy; at least for the rest of this season.