The biggest question mark surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers all summer was what they would do with point guard Russell Westbrook.
The L.A. native’s homecoming didn’t go as planned in 2021-22 after he was traded to the Lakers to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in hopes of winning another championship.
Westbrook’s play diminished though and both James and Davis missed significant time due to injury, resulting in the Lakers missing the postseason in arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history.
While the Lakers have hoped to trade Westbrook and his $47 million expiring salary this offseason, they have been unsuccessful in doing so and now will likely begin the season with him on the roster.
Westbrook has obviously heard his name in trade rumors all offseason, but if he remains on the team, he is committed to doing his job to the best of his ability, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
“I don’t need to,” Westbrook told ESPN recently. “I need to just do my job. Whether I’m wanted or not doesn’t really matter. I think the most important thing is that I show up for work and I do the job like I’ve always done it: Be professional and go out and play my ass off and compete.”
A recent report suggested head coach Darvin Ham is considering bringing Westbrook off the bench. While that is not a role he is accustomed to, the former MVP says he is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Lakers win:
“I’m all-in on whatever it takes for this team to win,” Westbrook said. “I’m prepared for whatever comes my way.”
A lot of people have written Westbrook off after the 2021-22 season he had with the Lakers. He takes accountability for his shortcomings though and believes he is prepared to prove the doubters wrong this season:
“I’m not even close to being done,” Westbrook said. “I’m super grateful and blessed to be able to go compete year after year, and that’s all I can do is prepare myself, my mind, my body for as long as I play. …
“I’m going to make mistakes. I’m [occasionally] not going to have good games. There will be times and stretches when I don’t play well. I’ve owned that, and there were times last year that I could’ve played better, and I own that part of it. Moving into this year, I feel even more prepared than I was in years past. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. That, right there, will get me past any struggles that come my way.”
There is nothing the Lakers would want more than for Westbrook to have a bounce-back season and help get the team back into contention.
Whatever role he is in, Westbrook must commit to the defensive end of the floor for that to happen so it will be interesting to see if he is willing to do that or if all the pre-season talk is just that.
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