Tuesday's NBA: Russell Westbrook exercises $47M option with Lakers

Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is exercising his option to play for $47.1 million next season, a person with direct knowledge of the decision said Tuesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Westbrook — a past NBA MVP and one of the league’s top 75 all-time players — nor the Lakers revealed the decision publicly. ESPN first reported Westbrook’s decision.

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook is exercising his option to play for $47.1 million next season.

It certainly was not a surprise, considering Westbrook would not have commanded anywhere near $47.1 million for this coming season had he chosen to become a free agent. He’ll turn 34 next season, his 15th in the NBA.

Westbrook had until Wednesday to make up his mind on the option, which will make this the fifth and final season of a $207 million contract he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The nine-time All-Star has been well-traveled since — he was traded to Houston in 2019, traded to Washington in 2020 and was moved to the Lakers in 2021.

That created what was supposed to be a great trio: Westbrook alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned. The Lakers were dogged by injuries all season, missed the playoffs, fired coach Frank Vogel after the season and Westbrook has taken much of the blame for what happened.

He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 games with the Lakers. Only four other players — two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of Denver, James Harden of Philadelphia, Luka Doncic of Dallas and Dejounte Murray of San Antonio — finished the season with higher averages than Westbrook had in those three stat categories.

But his scoring average was his lowest since 2009-10, and his 3-point percentage — 29.8% — ranked 251st out of 278 NBA players who attempted at least 100 shots from beyond the arc this season.

Cavs extend offer

The Cavaliers made the expected move and extended a qualifying offer to guard Collin Sexton, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

Sexton is now a restricted free agent and the high-energy scorer could draw interest from other teams. If Sexton receives an offer sheet, the Cavs can match it.

Teams can begin negotiating with free agents on Thursday.

A first-round pick in 2018, Sexton played in just 11 games last season before tearing meniscus in his right knee and undergoing surgery. The 23-year-old had been playing well and seemed to accept a lesser scoring role alongside All-Star Darius Garland.

Hardy accepts Utah's offer

Celtics assistant Will Hardy has accepted an offer to become the coach of the Jazz, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

Hardy and the Jazz were in the process of finalizing contract language, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither side announced the deal publicly.

Hardy will become an NBA head coach for the first time. He will replace Quin Snyder, who decided to leave the Jazz earlier this month after eight seasons.

ESPN and The Athletic first reported the agreement between Hardy and the Jazz.

Clippers complete remodeling of 350 courts in Los Angeles

Los Angeles — The Los Angeles Clippers have completed the renovations of 350 public basketball courts, unveiling the last of them Tuesday at the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center.

The project, which was funded by a gift from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, took four years to complete and was managed by the Los Angeles Parks Foundation.

Ballmer, appearing at the unveiling of the 350th court, said impacting kids' lives “is really what it's about."

“But if we get a few fans out of it, I’m good with that too," Ballmer said. “We're one fan at a time, we’re scratching, we’re clawing. C'mon, man, that's why we're here. We’re here to win championships, excite fans and help kids.”

The “Clippers Community Courts" have also been used as shelters, emergency child care centers and alternative learning sites during the pandemic, the team said. The Clippers also point to the courts as a way to promote youth sports as part of the city's drive toward hosting the 2028 Olympics.