Kawhi Leonard stepped up to the podium on Tuesday night and answered questions about Russell Westbrook’s fit with the Los Angeles Clippers following the team’s latest loss.
At the NBA Trade Deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers sent Westbrook to the Utah Jazz in a three-team swap. Shortly thereafter, Utah released the former league MVP and freed him up to sign with the Clippers.
There were some questions about how he would fit, given his time with the Lakers, but Paul George advocate strongly for his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate.
Unfortunately, the Clippers are winless since Westbrook’s arrival – including a situation where Ty Lue was already forced to bench him. Which is what led to Leonard stepping up to the podium following a consequential loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and addressing his impact on the team.
Kawhi Leonard on how Russell Westbrook has fit alongside him and Paul George so far and how the Clippers “gotta keep fighting and it’s on us if we want to get better” to get out of this 3-game slide. pic.twitter.com/pKk1c6lFbH
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) March 1, 2023
“I think he is doing a good job,” Leonard said. “He is playing both ends of the floor… being aggressive…knocking down shots…getting into the paint, kicking out, so he’s playing good.”
Statistically, Westbrook had a fine game – 14 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds. But he always seems to have a decent stat line. Where he struggles is making a meaningful difference to the wins and losses.
After the game, Westbrook admitted that he needed to be better.
“Just gotta be better. I gotta be better, starting with myself, just setting the tone. Gotta finally get a win. It starts with me, gotta make sure I’m better for these guys, make sure I’m better all around.”
Russell Westbrook on the Clippers loss tonight.
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Leonard, for his part, continued to preach patience.
“It’s a lot of new pieces here,” Leonard said.
“Those guys are playing some minutes, so just learning the style of how T-Lue is coaching and our defense. You know could make some mistakes here and there. You could see our experience on court at times, but we just gotta keep building our chemistry with each other.”
Westbrook was quick to take a lowkey jab at the Lakers following his Clippers signing, but it seems pretty clear that he is having the same issues on his new team that he had on his old one.
Obviously the sample size is small, but the Clippers seemed better without Westbrook than with him. And the stats bear that out. When Terance Mann was the starting point guard, the Clippers went 10-2. Since Westbrook’s arrival the team has recorded 62 turnovers.
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The remainder of the NBA season will be an interesting one.
And it will tell fans a lot about where all parties involved will stand going forward.
If Westbrook can’t find a way to win with Leonard, George and the Clippers, there likely isn’t going to be much of a place for him in the NBA after that.