Russell Westbrook: I Don't Need to Feel Wanted by Lakers After Offseason Trade Rumors

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 26, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 15: Russell Westbrook is seen as Nipsey Hussle is posthumously honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 15, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Russell Westbrook is ready to show up for the Los Angeles Lakers, even if they don't necessarily love that he is still on the roster.

"I don't need to," the point guard said when he was asked if he felt wanted by his own team, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. "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."

Frankly, it is surprising that Westbrook is still a member of the Lakers.

The experiment of adding him to a core that already featured LeBron James and Anthony Davis was a failure last season. Los Angeles missed the playoffs and play-in tournament entirely with James and Davis dealing with injury concerns and the point guard struggling to find his place on the court.

That he shot an ugly 29.8 percent from deep didn't help, as teams with James handling the ball typically thrive when he is surrounded by outside shooters who can take advantage of the spacing created when opposing defenses collapse on the King.

Westbrook has shot below 30 percent from three-point range in six of the last eight seasons, so it is not realistic to expect his struggles to change in 2022-23.

His performance led to booing from the home crowd and an offseason of trade rumors, but he is still on the roster with the new year approaching.

The biggest change for the Lakers heading into the new season will come on the sidelines, as they fired head coach Frank Vogel and hired Darvin Ham. Ham was publicly supportive of Westbrook this offseason, and his ability—or inability—to help the nine-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer rediscover his old form could determine the Lakers' ceiling.

No team will be under a brighter spotlight across the entire league than Westbrook and the Lakers, but he apparently won't be bothered if some of that spotlight and scrutiny comes from within the organization.


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