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Ty Lue on Russell Westbrook's free agency: 'I want him back, for sure'


The Los Angeles Clippers' 2022-23 season came to an end onTuesday night, as the Phoenix Suns eliminated them with a 136-130victory in Game 5.

Now, the focus shifts to the Clippers' offseason and where theteam goes from here.

After the game, head coach Ty Lue was asked about RussellWestbrook's playoff production and upcoming free agency. Lueadmitted that he feels validated after Westbrook's strongpostseason, and he hopes the 34-year-old free agent will be backwith the Clippers next season.

"Hopefully you guys can see that Russ still has a lot left inthe tank. Hopefully he's back with us next year," Lue said ofWestbrook. "Then again, this has opened eyes for a lot of the teams[who may want to] give him an opportunity, if he can go out thereand really get paid. But I want him back, for sure."

In 21 regular-season games with the Clippers, Westbrook averaged15.8 points, 7.6 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.2 threes and 1.1 steals,while shooting 48.9% from the field, 35.6% from three-point rangeand 65.8% from the free-throw line.

Westbrook stepped up in the postseason, making plays on bothends of the floor, averaging 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.4assists, 2.0 threes, 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals. Even when his shotwasn't falling, he found other ways to make an impact.

Westbrook in the playoffs:14 PTS | 8 REB | 8 AST37 PTS | 6 REB | 4 AST30 PTS | 8 REB | 12 AST28 PTS | 5 REB | 5 AST9 PTS | 11 REB | 8 ASTLed the Clippers in points, assists, steals and blocks.

— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 26, 2023

Lue shouted out Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, president ofbusiness operations Gillian Zucker and president of basketballoperations Lawrence Frank for signing Westbrook midseason after hewas bought out by the Utah Jazz. Now, he's hoping they can figureout a way to re-sign the veteran guard.

"Usually when I ask for something, they usually try to make surethey get it done," Lue said of Los Angeles' front office. "[Russ]was huge for us. So I hope everybody can see just [in] differentsituations, [on] different teams, guys play differently indifferent spots."

Westbrook earned just $784,914 from the Clippers this season, ashe signed a veteran-minimum deal following his huge buyout with theJazz. Given his production in Los Angeles, the former MVP willlikely ask for a significant raise this summer.

Since Ballmer purchased the team, the Clippers haven't beenafraid to spend a ton of money in hopes of building a contender.This season, their $192,905,421 payroll was the highest in theNBA.

It remains to be seen what kind of market Westbrook will have infree agency and whether he will be back with his hometown team nextseason.

"You know what, this will be probably my first time actually inmy career being able to make a [free-agency] decision," Westbrooksaid when asked about his future. "One thing I'll tell you is thatI love it here. I love the people, just the fans embracing not justme but my family and close friends. I know [it's the] end of theyear, a lot of things have happened, but I'm grateful. I definitelylove being here.

"As far as making a decision, I guess I'll cross that bridgewhen I get there. I don't really know my process because it's kindof my first time doing this, so we'll see what happens."

Westbrook raved about the Clippers organization and how itdiffers from other franchises.

"A well, well-ran organization from top to bottom," Westbrooksaid. "Been in the league a long time. You understand the value ofthe small things, the staff, the people that they have here to takecare of the players day in and day out. It's something that Ireally noticed since day one.

"Not just that, but it's a happy and enjoyable environment [andthat] is something that you don't see everywhere. [People are]happy to come to work, being around people that actually enjoytheir job, enjoy what they're doing, and making sure we haveeverything we need to be successful on the floor."

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