Russell Westbrook is in search of his first NBA championship, and he might be closer to one after being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, who are top contenders in the Western Conference.
Westbrook will play alongside LeBron James for the first time in his career, and he recognizes that the four-time champion knows what it takes to win NBA titles.
"We both understand and know what it takes to be able to win, but Bron understands what it takes to get to that next level," Westbrook told reporters during Tuesday's media availability.
Westbrook, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and played for UCLA in college, now gets the chance to play for his hometown NBA team. The Lakers will be his fourth franchise in the last four seasons. After spending the first 11 years of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook played one season each for the Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards.
Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the fourth time last season, posting career highs of 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists to go with 22.2 points. He helped lead Washington to its first playoff appearance since the 2017-18 season.
Along with James, Westbrook will play with All-Star big man Anthony Davis. The Lakers have an experienced roster, adding former All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo and DeAndre Jordan in the offseason. Veterans Trevor Ariza and Wayne Ellington also joined the team.
Los Angeles won its 17th NBA championship in 2020 by defeating the Miami Heat, tying the Boston Celtics for the most all-time.
The Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the 2021 playoffs by the second-seeded Phoenix Suns, becoming the first defending champions to lose in the first round since the 2014-15 San Antonio Spurs. Davis suffered a groin strain midway through the series as the Lakers fell in six games.