After a tumultuous summer, Russell Westbrook still donned purple and gold when the Los Angeles Lakers gathered for Media Day on Monday.
The Lakers were widely reported to discuss a Westbrook trade with a number of teams despite new head coach Darvin Ham’s claims that he was looking forward to working with the 2017 NBA MVP. Westbrook himself kept quiet for the majority of the offseason, eventually assuring the Lakers faithful right before Media Day that he is “all-in” on helping L.A. win games in 2022-23.
And once he sat in front of the reporters on Monday, the 33-year-old reiterated he will give it all in the upcoming season — regardless of whether the Purple and Gold wanted him to return for another year.
“I mean, whether they want me here or not doesn’t really matter, honestly,” Westbrook said when asked if he feels wanted by the organization. “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.
“I mean, we all have jobs — sometimes people in our jobs don’t like us, they don’t want us there.”
Westbrook added he will leave everything on the floor for the Lakers as it’s something he has to do for his family.
“As a professional and as a working man, I have to do my job — and do it the best way I know how — to be able to support and take care of my family. And that’s what I will do,” the guard said.
Although Westbrook’s remarks might suggest a change in the guard’s attitude at first, he hardly said anything different from what he told the media in his exit interview. Back in April, the playmaker said he had done “whatever was best for the team” while blaming everyone else for the disappointing 2021-22 performance.
However, Westbrook’s honesty is striking and appears to confirm that L.A. hoped to move on from the guard ahead of the 2022-23 season — meaning the trade rumors probably won’t go anywhere in the months to come.
Ham noncommittal on starting Westbrook in 2022-23
Another interesting Media Day soundbite came from Ham, who didn’t commit to giving Westbrook a spot in the 2022-23 starting lineup. The Lakers head coach said he is still “ways away” from deciding his go-to formation.
“We have more than enough options that we’re comfortable with,” Ham said.
Previous reports said the Lakers “strongly considered” using Westbrook off the bench in the upcoming season.
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