Jimmy Butler’s agent says Steven Adams could have been elite rebounder his whole career if it weren’t for Russell Westbrook

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Bernard Lee, the agent for Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, brought up Russell Westbrook in the midst of acknowledging the rebounding success of Memphis Grizzlies center Steven Adams.


Adams and Westbrook were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2013 to 2019, a connection that was severed when Westbrook was dealt to the Houston Rockets in July 2019.

During those six seasons, Westbrook established himself as one of the most prolific players in NBA history and averaged a triple-double in each of his final three seasons with the Thunder.

Adams’ rebounding numbers actually trailed Westbrook’s during the aforementioned three seasons, despite the fact that Westbrook plays the guard position.

In November 2020, Adams was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, where he spent one season before being sent to the Grizzlies in August 2021. In his two seasons in a Grizzlies uniform, Adams has averaged 10.2 boards per contest, a number that obviously caught Lee’s attention.

The jab at Westbrook is just the latest criticism of the veteran guard, whose once-stellar career has floundered since he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers last year.

Westbrook’s acquisition was seen by some as a key piece to helping the Lakers make another deep playoff run. Instead, his struggles to establish chemistry with his new teammates and key injuries in the Lakers’ lineup ended with the team not even reaching last year’s playoffs.

Even before the 2021-22 season had ended, the Lakers looked to pull the plug on their deal by trading away Westbrook. However, the combination of his huge salary and what was perceived by some as selfishness on the part of Westbrook resulted in no deal being made.

The Lakers would no doubt like to rid themselves of Westbrook since the team is continuing to struggle this season. Whether any deal happens before the February trade deadline is uncertain.

As far as Adams and the Grizzlies, it doesn’t seem likely that they’d consider adding Westbrook. That’s because, unlike the Lakers, they’re fighting for a top playoff berth in the Western Conference.

At 12-8, the Grizzlies currently have the third-best record in the conference and also already have a superstar guard in place with Ja Morant. To sustain that success, Adams needs to continue to be a force on the boards as the 2022-23 season rolls along

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.