Russell Westbrook was introduced by the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, delivering his first public comments since being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers dealt Westbrook at the deadline, sending the former MVP and a first-round pick to the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team, eight-player deal. The Lakers netted guards D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt in the deal.
Westbrook and the Jazz agreed to a buyout and he eventually decided to stay in LA, but with the Clippers.
Westbrook’s tenure with the Lakers was a turbulent one, nearly from the start. He was a consistent part of trade rumors and was moved to the bench early this season. In turn, Westbrook became a very public scapegoat for the Lakers’ struggles.
Multiple Clippers players publicly petitioned for the team to sign Westbrook, which played a large role in his decision.
“That’s a huge part, man, for anybody, for any normal human being in any situation in the workplace,” Westbrook said. “A lot of teammates and people that want you here, it’s very important to me. I value that a lot.”
Feeling of Being ‘Wanted’ Big for Westbrook
Understanding Westbrook’s previous situation with the Lakers, that statement could be seen as a bit of shade from the 9-time All-Star. But for the most part, Westbrook tried to avoid talking about the Lakers.
“For me, it’s just finding my way to be able to help other guys,” Westbrook said when asked why things didn’t work out with the Lakers. “It’s something I truly embrace, and that’s what I will do — make sure I can make the game easy for all these guys that are here, find out their spots, what they like, what they don’t like. And that’s going to be a process for me, but I’m ready for the challenge and looking forward to it.”
Westbrook averaged 15.9 points and 7.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds with the Lakers. His role on the Clippers is still to be determined but coach Tyronn Lue is ready for the challenge.
“We know that the style of play that we play, a lot of time it’s a grind-out game, with PG and Kawhi getting easy shots,” Lue said. “But I think Russ can help manufacture some of those easy baskets like John [Wall] did for us. … And it’s my job to make sure everything works out. So I’m excited for the challenge.”
Anthony Davis Unsure How Westbrook Will Fit With Clippers
Lakers star Anthony Davis didn’t have any tremendous insight on Westbrook’s next stop when asked about the move during Wednesday’s practice.
“I know they got rid of John [Wall] and Reggie [Jackson], so it’s another point guard for them,” Davis said. “I’m not sure how T-Lue and the coaching staff will utilize him, but I’m pretty sure he’s happy to stay in L.A.”
As for Lakers coach Darvin Ham — a frequent defender of Westbrook — he hopes it works out for his former point guard.
“I appreciate Russ for everything he tried to do for us, for sacrificing, complying with my vision of him coming off the bench and having a more balanced lineup,” Ham said. “I wish him well.”
The Clippers are currently the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference at 33-28. The Lakers are in the chase pack, emerging from the All-Star break at 27-32 and as the No. 13 seed in the West.