Lakers Media Day: LeBron James Thinks Russell Westbrook Can ‘Absolutely’ Have Successful Season In L.A.
Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook will seemingly start the 2022-23 season with the Los Angeles Lakers despite the team’s efforts — reportedly driven by LeBron James — to trade him in the summer.

James is understood to have pressured the Lakers to trade Westbrook for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving in the offseason. The awkward incident between the two Lakers stars at the Las Vegas Summer League only fueled rumors of the four-time NBA champion’s desire to see the 2017 NBA MVP gone after just one year in L.A.

But now that Westbrook appears to be all but certain to remain with the Purple and Gold for the time being, James said he believes the 33-year-old playmaker can bounce back in 2022-23. “Absolutely,” he said during a Media Day interview on Monday.

“Look forward to being a part of the journey with him this year. It’s going to be a great year for him and we’re going to be right there with him. We’re here and it starts tomorrow. It’s all about putting in the work and when you put in the word, you see the results.”

Recent reports claimed a tough season might await Westbrook if he starts the 2022-23 campaign with the Lakers, who are believed to be discussing the possibility of having the guard come off the bench.

And head coach Darvin Ham failed to guarantee Westbrook a spot in the starting lineup on Monday, saying he is still “ways away” from picking his go-to unit.

Meanwhile, Westbrook said he was ready to leave everything on the floor in the upcoming season, regardless of whether L.A. wanted to trade him in the summer.

“I mean, whether they want me here or not doesn’t really matter, honestly,” Westbrook said. “My job is to be professional, show up to work like I’ve always done thus far, do my job the best way I know how to. And that’s it.”

James reiterates commitment to Lakers

James signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers in August, which will see the 18-time All-Star play for the Purple and Gold for at least another two seasons.

And on Monday, James reiterated his commitment to the franchise.

“I came here because I believe in the franchise and I’m still here,” the forward said.

“It’s literally that simple. I’m committed to the franchise for as long as my career, my contract years. I look forward to getting going tomorrow and starting another season for the Lakers franchise.”

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