Connect with us


How about Russell Westbrook for Paul George?

Russell Westbrook, Rockets, James Harden

The Houston Rockets are apparently open-minded to the prospect of trading Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Clippers have some interest in the high-octane point guard. Furthermore, there have been reports that the Clippers are looking to make a roster-altering transaction or two this offseason. And finally, even Westbrook wants out of Houston.

Here’s an idea: the Rockets trade Russell Westbrook to the Clippers for Paul George.

Why the Rockets pull the trigger

The Rockets have tried close to everything when it comes to putting players around James Harden: Dwight Howard, a group of reliable, complementary players, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook. Are they ever going to win a championship with Harden and Westbrook at the helm?

Houston has never surrounded Harden with a premier forward, which George would be in new head coach Stephen Silas’ rotation.

Maybe Silas wants to shake things up. Yes, he inherits a roster that was firmly embedded in Mike D’Antoni’s uptempo, guard-oriented offense. But with both D’Antoni and Daryl Morey out of the picture, Silas could propose to upper management that Harden can be the sole ball-handler with George serving as the team’s No. 2 scorer. In such a role, George would play off the ball more.

Regardless of his team’s shortcomings in winning a conference championship in recent memory, George is one of the elite scorers in the NBA. He plays well in isolation and is a considerable shooter from distance and off the dribble. George is also a respectable on-ball and perimeter defender. Last season he averaged 21.5 points per game while shooting a career-high 41.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Houston has an array of scorers. Harden is the best scorer in the sport; Eric Gordon effectively attacks off the dribble; PJ Tucker and Robert Covington fire from deep; Danuel House is a scrappy scorer; Austin Rivers takes what the defense gives him.

Rivers could either play off the ball in the starting five or continue to be an effective two-way player off the bench. Paul George wouldn’t be perfect for the Rockets, but they can make it work.

In acquiring Covington at this year’s NBA trade deadline, the Rockets shipped out mainstay center Clint Capela and went all in on severe small-ball play with players like Tucker and Covington being the tallest players on the floor.

This offseason they could take a 90-degree turn, signing a couple of veteran centers to assume 15-20 minute roles, adding some roster variety. In a way, they’d be trying out the Clippers’ 2019-20 offense: two ball-dominant wings/forwards, outside shooting, and complementary point guards and big men.

A Harden-George duo is more likely to win the Western Conference than a Harden-Westbrook duo. They’re a better shooting combo and shouldn’t severely impede the other’s offensive tendencies. From a career path standpoint, they’ve each been unable to win a ring on their own and with other star players. Maybe they can break through together.

If a George-included Rockets team fails to yield profound results, they can part ways next offseason, as George has an opt-out for the 2021-22 NBA season.

Clippers, Russell Westbrook

Why the Clippers pull the trigger

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the frontline with a backcourt that stretched the floor and moved the ball was working for the Clippers—that was until it wasn’t.

Fresh off blowing a 3-1 second-round series lead to the Denver Nuggets, including two 15-plus-point second-half leads, and getting head coach Doc Rivers fired, all bets are off for the Clippers’ future. Let’s start off the Tyronn Lue era in style by getting him Westbrook to run his offense.

In his two and a half seasons coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers, specifically his 2015-16 championship team, Lue had an elite floor general in Kyrie Irving. He took some pressure off LeBron James and was money in the clutch. Albeit, he’s an inefficient shooter, Westbrook could be to Leonard what Irving was to James.

Westbrook can co-run the offense in bringing the ball up the floor and initiating set plays, taking some attention off Leonard. By attacking the rim with tenacity, Westbrook draws double-teams, which would open up some easy buckets for Leonard. Last season Leonard and George were playing similar games, and it made the offense a bit predictable in crunch time in the playoffs.

Sure, Lue was on the sidelines with his now predecessor for a couple seasons. At the same time, Lue may have a different vision than Rivers. Maybe he doesn’t think Leonard and George can win a championship together? Perhaps he wants more of a commanding point guard?

For better or worse, Russell Westbrook is as good as anyone in the sport at what he does. He’s eccentric off the dribble, plays with an unstoppable motor, and flies coast to coast. Last season he averaged 27.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. He is who is he, and the fire he plays with could create a new identity for the Clippers organization.

Leonard won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors while playing with a proven floor general (Kyle Lowry). He also won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs while playing with a trio of players who were franchise royalty (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili). Leonard can find a way to make it work with Westbrook.

In between Westbrook and Leonard is a variety of scorers. Lou Williams is money off the dribble; Landry Shamet is an exceptional outside shooter; Patrick Beverley is a threat from distance; president Lawrence Frank can accumulate some veteran players to fill rotation voids, like he did last offseason and throughout the course of the regular season.

The Clippers can bring in a family therapist to get Westbrook and Beverley on the same page. Get that matter taken care of and a Leonard and Westbrook-led offense is worth taking a flier on.

The post How about Russell Westbrook for Paul George? appeared first on ClutchPoints.

More in Rockets