King: I'd take Russell Westbrook 'on my team any night'

/ by Michael Allardyce
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls didn't make any moves at the NBA Trade Deadline.

If the Bulls and Artūras Karnišovas want to improve this roster to make a push for the playoff market, they need to turn to the buyout market.

And the name that keeps coming up.... Russell Westbrook.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski labeled the Bulls 'front-runners' to land Westbrookif he hits the buyout market as expected.

While a fair amount of fans aren't fond of the prospect of landing Westbrook, Bulls' color commentator Stacey King is. 

"He may not be the best shooter, but I would take him on my team any night because this is one guy you don't ever have to worry about coming ready to play," King said on his Gimme The Hot Sauce podcast. You don't have to. This guy loves to compete. He loves to play. He's going to inspire other people to play hard."

And King believes he can help the Bulls.

"Tremendously with effort and energy every night," King said. "One thing you can't say about Russell Westbrook is he doesn't play hard. You know, this is a superstar player."

Head coach Billy Donovan acknowledged that he sounded “like a broken record” when raising his team’s habit of playing with a lack of urgency and inconsistency. Westbrook could potentially be an answer.


Donovan burned a timeout less than 3 minutes after Thursday’s tipoff in the Bulls’ eventual loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

“I thought their energy and intensity was better than ours to start the game,” Donovan said.

King also isn't putting the blame on Westbrook for the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles.

"He goes to the Lakers and everybody wants to put him as the scapegoat," King said. "Well, he's the reason why Los Angeles, you know, is bad. It's all Russell Westbrook's fault. Come on, man. I'm not even trying to hear all that."

King criticized LeBron James for recruiting Westbrook when he might not have fit with his style of play. He also criticized the organization and coaches for not utilizing Westbrook the right way.

"You knew what kind of player Russ is," King said. "The coaching staff knew what kind of player, the organization knew what kind of player he is. He's a ball-dominant guard. He's a guy that has to have the ball in his hands.

"He wants to get the ball, rebound the ball at the point guard position and push in transition. He will pass. That's the reason why his triple-doubles. But you better run with him. LeBron doesn't want to run in transition. LeBron wants to walk the ball up, shoot a step back, 30-foot three. That's what he wants to do.

"The coaching staff should be the blame, you know, for for not knowing how to put Russell in situations where he could succeed. You're telling Russell now, okay, we want you to be as sit in the corner, stand there and shoot threes. That's not his game."

The same issue could arise in Chicago. The Bulls need three-point shooting and Westbrook isn't the answer to that need. Westbrook is a career 30.4 percent 3-point shooter.

But as Donovan said, they need some urgency and energy. Westbrook might be the answer to those needs.

Donovan coached Westbrook in Oklahoma City and during that time Westbrook won an MVP award, a NBA scoring title, twice led the NBA in assists, went to four All-Star games, earned his two All-NBA First Team odds. He was All-NBA in all five of Donovan's seasons in OKC.

"This is a Hall of Famer. This is not some fringe player. This is not some guy past his prime," King said. "This guy a few seasons ago before he went to the Lakers was a triple-double machine."

The Bulls sit roughly $1.7 million under the luxury tax and only have paid that once in franchise history. So any potential signee off the buyout market would almost certainly have to agree to a prorated deal that keeps the Bulls under the tax.

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