Russell Westbrook: ‘Whether the Lakers want me or not doesn’t really matter’

“Whether the Lakers want me or not, it doesn’t really matter,” said point guard Russell Westbrook on Monday, determined to remain professional until the end with the Los Angeles Lakers, before a season where he will be waited around the corner.

“My job is to be professional, to work as I always have and to do my job as best I can. We all have jobs where sometimes people don’t like us and don’t want us, you can attest to that I’m sure, “said the player during the traditional media day.

“I’m ready to do whatever it takes for this team to win,” added Westbrook, eager to show, despite all the criticism after a disappointing first season, that he is still ready to fight on the floor. .

Transferred to the Lakers in the summer of 2021, the former Thunder player, named MVP in 2017, never found his place in the Californian team for his first year.

Weighed down by injuries including Anthony Davis and also LeBron James, the 2020 champion finished in a disappointing 11th place in the Western Conference, de facto missing the play-offs.

“I don’t have the answer at the moment,” he replied when asked what his team needed to get back to the top 6 in the West.

He again showed marble when asked if his starting role was threatened, in particular by the arrival of point guard Patrick Beverley: “I’m just excited to get back on the court, I can’t wait to start the season and whatever happens, will happen”.

La concurrence Beverley

As he turns 34 in November, the nine-time All-Star point guard will earn $47 million this season, after which he will be free of any contract.

To strengthen themselves, the Lakers repatriated Patrick Beverley to Los Angeles, he who played with the opposite team, the Clippers, from 2017 to 2021. Playing in the same position as Westbrook, the two leaders had several altercations on the land in the past.

The former Timberwolves player, however, seems to have reconciled with Westbrook.

“I’ve been here for four weeks and if I had to pick one best friend on this team right now, it would be him. We are in training at 6:30 in the morning together, ”he assured.

“People think we have the worst relationship ever…but I know a lot of you don’t like each other either. But when you put two professionals together, two people who want to win, it works and to get where we want to go, we have to become good friends,” he added.

Remarks aimed at reassuring Lakers fans. Just like those of Lebron James, who also shared his optimism about Westbrook’s upcoming season: “It’s going to be a great year for him. We will be behind him”.

Their season kicks off Oct. 18 with a trip to San Francisco for the defending champions Golden State Warriors.

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