Free agent point guard Russell Westbrook is returning to the Clippers after agreeing to a two-year contract worth just shy of $8 million that includes a player option for the second season, a person with knowledge of the agreement but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed to The Times on Saturday.
After reaching unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career, Westbrook ultimately took less than two days to return to the Clippers, the team he said he was “grateful” to land with after a rocky stint with the Lakers that ended in being traded to Utah, which bought out his contract.
The Clippers, who did not possess Westbrook’s Bird rights, were limited to offering him $3.8 million in the first season. The team checked in with Westbrook on the first day of free agency and then waited as the market for point guards settled, and Westbrook opted for a reunion that will keep him in his hometown .
With Kawhi Leonard anticipated to be healthy to start training camp, according to team president Lawrence Frank, and Paul George expected to be healthy to start the season, Westbrook will be asked to do what he had little opportunity for last season and set the table for his co-stars.
“I feel like I can really help them out, make the game easy for them,” Westbrook said in April. “I think once I got here, I don’t know how many games we played all together, but it started off slow. Took some time. Just helping them make the game easy for them.
“I know I can make the game [easy]. Get a whole season, whole camp, whole summer to reevaluate what we want to do as a team. Hopefully can make that happen.”
Westbrook’s return fills one gaping need on the Clippers’ depth chart at point guard. The Clippers quickly checked off another offseason priority Saturday by trading for Houston forward K.J. Martin, whose team option for next season was picked up by the Rockets two days earlier.
The Clippers sent the Rockets a 2026 second-round pick, and a 2027 second-round pick from the Memphis Grizzlies in the deal, according to a person with knowledge of the terms.
The son of longtime NBA forward Kenyon Martin — who, in New Jersey, was coached by Frank — K.J. was valued by the Clippers because his bouncy, high-energy athleticism is a quality last season’s roster starkly lacked. The Clippers like that he is a threat to finish lob dunks behind defenses and create second-chance points on the glass and also playing wing defense. As someone capable of playing both forward positions, he also brings a new face to a position the Clippers have sought to upgrade.