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Westbrook opts for Clippers over Bulls after buyout

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Russell Westbrook plans to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers once his contract buyout from the Utah Jazz is completed, according to his agent Jeff Schwartz via reporting by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Westbrook picked the Clippers over overtures from the Chicago Bulls, among other teams. The Bulls, sources said, also have had contact with representatives for John Wall and Patrick Beverley, although it's unclear their level of interest in adding either veteran guard. Either addition would bring into question whether Goran Dragic would finish the season with the Bulls, who would need to create a roster spot to add any player.

The Clippers afford Westbrook, who was traded to the Jazz by the Los Angeles Lakers, the opportunity to remain home while also playing minutes for a team headed for a playoff berth.

Westbrook's strong familiarity with the Bulls’ coaching staff came from spending four seasons in Oklahoma City with head Billy Donovan and assistant coach Maurice Cheeks and part of that time with assistant coach Josh Longstaff.

While Westbrook, 34, wouldn't have solved any of the Bulls' 3-point shooting woes as a career 30.4 percent shooter, he would've brought his typical competitiveness, intensity and relentless style of play to a team that too often has suffered lapses and inconsistency. The Bulls have lost five games this season in which they led by 16 points or more.

Westbrook also plays with pace and force, traits that could've benefitted Zach LaVine in transition, among others. His strong personality and straight-shooting leadership might've stood out in a locker room filled with leaders who are quieter by nature.

Westbrook was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Utah Jazz in a three-team trade on Feb. 9. He averaged 15.9 points, 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds over 52 games with the Lakers this season, coming off the bench in all but three appearances. The NBA’s all-time career leader in triple doubles with 198, Westbrook owns career averages of 22.5 points, 8.4 assists and 7.3 rebounds over 1,073 games.

 The Bulls are widely expected to announce shortly after the All-Star break the formality that Lonzo Ball, who has undergone two knee surgeries since January 2022, won’t return this season. Ayo Dosunmu has started 49 games thus far, and Dragic has played a limited role.

The Bulls, currently in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, entered the All-Star break on a six-game losing streak.

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