The Los Angeles Clippers adding Russell Westbrook was a move that got viewed with a lot of skepticism.
Although Westbrook is a former league MVP and future Hall of Famer, his time with the Los Angeles Lakers soured many on what he was still capable of doing in the league.
Surely enough, both he and the Clippers stumbled out of the gate. The team lost its first five outings with Westbrook on the roster and things seemed headed down an unfortunate path.
But then Ty Lue had an epiphany.
In an effort to pump some life back into his squad, the Clippers coach benched Westbook in the fourth quarter of a game against the Denver Nuggets.
Now the Clippers are winners of three straight games and the common denominator for them appears to be Westbrook sitting on the bench when it matters most.
Specifically, against both the Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks, Westbrook has accrued zero total minutes for the Clippers in the final period.
And while he has failed to record more than 10 points in any of those outings, his team has won all of them.
At the end of the day – that’s all that matters.
As noted by Malika Andrews, the Lakers are the happiest they have ever been right now sans Westbrook. They are thriving.
Westbrook’s best course of action in response would be playing whatever role the Clippers ask of him – even if it’s a minimal one.
Kawhi Leonard’s recent comments on Westbrook were telling. Everyone seems to understand that less is more with him.
The question now is just how little. Obviously benching him in the fourth quarter is easy enough. But should Westbrook’s minutes be limited even further?
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 12, 2023
That is a decision Lue will need to make.
One way or another, the Clippers are clearly gearing up for a deep playoff run.
How involved will Westbrook ultimately be in it? Time will tell.