After a deadline trade to the Utah Jazz and an initial discussion with the franchise’s management, Russell Westbrook expects to take time heading into the All-Star break to decide on his next steps this season, sources told ESPN on Saturday.
Jazz CEO Danny Ainge, general manager Justin Zanik and coach Will Hardy told Westbrook and his agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports on Friday that they would welcome him reporting to the team, but the organization is prioritizing playing its younger players and no assurances on minutes or role size could be made to Westbrook, sources said.
Negotiating a contract buyout on the remainder of his $47 million salary this season would allow Westbrook to become a free agent and sign elsewhere this season. The Chicago Bulls loom as a possibility in that scenario, as do the LA Clippers, Miami Heat and others, sources said.
Westbrook can remain eligible to be part of a playoff roster by agreeing to a contract buyout by March 1.
For now, the Jazz and Westbrook aren’t ruling out potential scenarios yet — staying with the team and playing, returning home for the rest of the season with the remainder of his $47 million salary, or a buyout.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded Westbrook and a 2027 first-round pick to the Jazz as part of a three-team deal Wednesday. After a tumultuous season-plus with the Lakers, Westbrook is taking time to decompress and consider the possibilities and options, sources said.
Westbrook, 34, is a nine-team All-Star and a 2017 NBA MVP with Oklahoma City.