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    Clippers bring back Russell Westbrook, trade for K.J. Martin
    • July 2, 2023

    While waiting for a trade involving James Harden to transpire, the Clippers made moves Saturday that assured themselves of a veteran point guard and a forward who brings youth to one of the oldest rosters in the league.

    Russell Westbrook, a free-agent point guard, agreed to a two-year, $7.8 million deal that includes a player option for the second year and keeps him in a Clippers uniform, according to unnamed sources.

    Later, the Clippers signed K.J. Martin, a hard-charging forward who played for the Houston Rockets last season. The Rockets exercised their team option on Martin and sent him to the Clippers for two future second-round picks. He is reported to make $1.9 million next season.

    Westbrook had said in April that, as a free agent, he was looking forward to deciding his future for the first time in his career. It took two days for him to re-sign with a team that he “loved” playing for after 18 tumultuous months with the Lakers.

    The Clippers, who did not possess Westbrook’s Bird rights, were limited in what they could offer the one-time league MVP and nine-time All Star.

    Westbrook and Martin not only bring more Southern California ties to the team, but athleticism and energy. Martin played at Chatsworth Sierra Canyon and Westbrook attended Lawndale Leuzinger High.

    Westbrook joined the Clippers in February and quickly found a comfortable fit in the locker room, where was welcomed by Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr., who had openly campaigned for the mercurial guard. He also found his place on the floor as the team’s starting point guard.

    At age 34, Westbrook proved he could still run the offense, although turnovers (3.4 a game) were a problem at times. In 21 games, he averaged 15.8 points, 7.6 assists and 2.1 steals. He also stepped up during the first round of the playoffs when Kawhi Leonard and George were sidelined.

    Should the Clippers acquire Harden, it would be the third time he and Westbrook played on the same team.

    Martin, 22, saw action in all 82 games with the Rockets last season, starting 49 of them. The 6-foot-6 small forward posted career highs in points (12.7), rebounds (5.5), and minutes per game (28.0) as well as field goal percentage (.572). He also averaged better than 80% from within 3 feet of the rim.

    Martin’s father, Kenyon, played for the Clippers in 2012.

    Meanwhile, there wasn’t any news on Harden. The Philadelphia 76ers are exploring trades after the 10-time All-Star guard picked up his $35.6 million contract option for next season. The Clippers are targeted as a landing spot for Harden.


    The Clippers introduced their two draft picks – Kobe Brown and Jordan Miller – who will be part of the team’s Summer League squad that will play July 7-17 in Las Vegas. The team will be coached by Clippers assistant Dahntay Jones.

    Jones said he liked what the young players, who have considerable college experience, bring to the team. He said Brown is a skilled ball handler and spot-up shooter, who knows how to play basketball “and that’s a skill in itself.”

    Jones said Jordan knows “how to make his teammates better and that’s rare to find – a young player who is skilled in that area without getting direction.”

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    ​ Orange County Register