Russell Westbrook’s return to the Los Angeles Lakers elicited mostly skeptical reactions after the 2017 NBA MVP’s difficult first year with the team — and a trade rumor-filled offseason.
The Lakers reportedly tried to trade Westbrook for the majority of the summer, engaging in negotiations with a number of NBA teams. They are understood to have even come very close to sending the 33-year-old guard to the Indiana Pacers on the eve of Media Day, only to decide to hold onto the current roster for the time being.
Members of the Lakers franchise have since then praised Westbrook and his attitude ahead of the looming 2022-23 season’s tip. The playmaker also has a fan among some of L.A.’s former players with three-time NBA champion Devean George telling TMZ he believes Westbrook can get back to his best self:
“I think it can work,” George said. “I’m a fan of Russell. Maybe I’m caught up in what he’s done in the past.”
When asked about the reasons behind Westbrook’s struggles in 2021-22, George said the Lakers didn’t do enough to unleash the amount of talent they had on the roster last year:
“Too much talent,” George said. “I think that’s the main thing. Everybody just do their role and cut back and not say what I used to do. I’m just a fan of Russ, so I’m a little biased.”
The Lakers missed out on playoff basketball last season, finishing in 11th with a 33-49 record. But George thinks L.A.’s postseason return is inevitable — and that the Purple and Gold can prove their doubters wrong after the regular season ends:
“I think they can get into being a dangerous team come playoff time,” the three-time NBA champ said. “Once playoff time comes, I think they’ll be able to make some noise.”
George has seen great talent in action during his 11-year NBA career, accompanying Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as they led the Lakers to the early 2000s three-peat. The forward spent seven seasons in L.A., averaging 5.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists over 429 games.
Westbrook being move to the bench?
For Westbrook to truly work alongside the Lakers’ other stars, specifically James, Darvin Ham may have to stagger their minutes and it seems he understands that as it looks like Westbrook will come off the bench to begin the season.
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