The Clippers plan to run it back, but maybe not with Russell Westbrook

Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four
Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four

The plan for the Clippers headed into the offseason is to run it back. Los Angeles already inked Kawhi Leonard to an extension. They have been in talks with Paul George but will likely have to max him out to keep him because George has options. The Clippers can't start negotiating with James Harden until after the NBA Finals end, but both sides want to get a deal done and one is expected. The Clippers will also talk about a contract extension with coach Tyronn Lue.

Russell Westbrook might be the one exception.

Westbrook has a $4 million player option for next year and is expected to opt out because there are likely bigger offers — and probably bigger roles — out there. Westbrook went to the bench when he and Harden didn't mesh as a backcourt, but that doesn't mean he liked it and everything was smooth, as Sam Amick and Law Murray wrote at The Athletic. Westbrook's future role on this team was evident in the playoffs, where he averaged 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 19 minutes a night off the bench.

Does the nine-time All-Star and former MVP want to continue in this kind of limited role while playing on a veteran's minimum deal, or might he have played his way into a better opportunity elsewhere? Considering the challenges that came with him being relegated to a reserve role, with team and league sources indicating that the process was far more challenging behind the scenes than team officials had made it appear publicly, the answer may very well be the latter.

Westbrook averaged 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in his 57 games coming off the bench, playing almost 21 minutes a night. He provided a spark of energy but was also inconsistent and had a 51.6 true shooting percentage that was well below the league average.

This has had the vibe of both sides being ready to move on for a while. What other team might offer a larger contract and role remains to be seen, but Westbrook's undeniable passion for the game and the energy he plays with will likely draw him some offers.