Why the Celtics should take a hard pass on Russell Westbrook

Chris Forsberg
·3 min read

Forsberg: Westbrook in Celtic green? Thanks, but no thanks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Before you fill up my DMs with Russell Westbrook trade proposals, let me save you some time.

Thanks, but no thanks.

It’s not that we don’t like Westbrook’s game. We actually very much enjoy watching him operate at his breakneck pace and the moxie he displays.

And it’s not that we think he’d necessarily be some sort of locker room cancer or Kyrie 2.0. Those that have played alongside Westbrook have typically raved about him, including Celtics big man Enes Kanter, who suggested recently that Westbrook might have been the best teammate he’s ever had.

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It just doesn’t feel like the right time or situation to chase Westbrook. Here’s why:

1) Westbrook turned 32 Thursday. That’s not ancient, but it says something that he was technically drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics. That’s 12 seasons of mileage on a player who drives like he’s in a perpetual game of bumper cars. The Rockets had a better net rating with him off the floor than on last season and Westbrook’s last two playoffs were underwhelming at best.

2) Westbrook is owed a staggering $132.5 million over the next three seasons. He’s on the books for $41.4, $44.2, and $47 million taking him to age 35. Matching salaries actually isn’t overly cumbersome, but the Rockets’ asking price probably starts with a Jaylen Brown/Marcus Smart combo and that should be a non-starter for Boston.

3) While Westbrook’s personality wouldn’t turn off Boston’s younger players, watching him take 23 shots per game sure might.

Shooting Gallery

Russell Westbrook's field goal attempts per game over the last four seasons, the most in the NBA.

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There’s a reason that guys like Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward are ideal complements to the young core as they are willing to sacrifice shots and opportunities to allow Jayson Tatum and Brown to grow. What’s more, Westbrook’s 3-point woes are not ideal for a Brad Stevens offense.

Former MVPs don’t come on the market very often and we get the fascination with adding that sort of star power. This isn’t the right move for Boston.

The Kyrie Irving dice roll was worth it because you were supposed to be getting prime-of-his-career Kyrie for a team that was uncertain about the long-term health of its current All-Star point guard. It’s fair to worry about Walker given the knee ailment that hindered him this past postseason but the Celtics are a legitimate title contender already when at full health.

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Let Michael Jordan splurge to bring his Jordan Brand buddy to Charlotte. Let the Knicks go crazy to bring the Westbrook Show to MSG.

Interest in Westbrook made sense when the Celtics were rumored to be interested in 2016. Ironically, the cost of that deal might have been Brown and the pick that became Tatum.

Four years later, Brown and Tatum are a big part of the reason you don’t need a Westbrook.