Russell Westbrook says the plan is to run it back with the Los Angeles Lakers next year, despite a massively disappointing debut season in purple and gold.
Westbrook was asked about his future with the franchise after the Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention on April 5 with a 121-110 loss to the Suns.
“That’s the plan, but nothing is promised,” Westbrook told reporters after the game. “Like I said all season long: You gotta play the cards you’re dealt. Yes, we want to be able to see what that looks like, what that entails over the course of an 82-game season. But we’re not sure if that’s guaranteed, neither. So, I just hope that we have a chance to be able to do something in the future.”
Westbrook was a polarizing addition this offseason, with the Lakers taking on his $44 million salary and sending key players to Washington to form a new “big three” in Los Angeles. But a flurry of injuries — specifically to LeBron James and Anthony Davis — and lack of overall cohesion never allowed the Lakers to grow into a contender.
The Lakers went 11-10 in games where James, Westbrook and Davis played together.
“I think we could’ve done extremely well,” Davis told FOX Sports. “We’ve got me, Russ, Bron, Melo [Carmelo Anthony], Dwight [Howard], AB [Avery Bradley], Malik [Monk]. We got an extremely good team on both sides of the basketball. But with us not being healthy, we don’t know what this team could’ve been. It looks good on paper and, at times, we do play well.”
Davis was slated to be the centerpiece of the Lakers roster, but his time rehabbing injuries is piling up. The former No. 1 overall pick has missed 75 games over the past two seasons due to injury.
Westbrook Grateful for Situation and Opportunity
Westbrook had his individual struggles as well. He was benched multiple times in the fourth quarter of key games and never seemed to mesh alongside his new superstar teammates in James and Davis. Westbrook leads the league in turnovers and his 18.5 points per game is his lowest since his second year in the league.
“Honestly, me personally, it’s a situation that I was just blessed to be able to be in,” he said after the loss to the Suns. “Learned a lot about a lot of different things within myself. I was able to just stay real faithful and true to what I believe in, regardless of what was ever thrown our way, or my way.
“I’m covered. I am super blessed and grateful. Regardless of whatever is thrown my way, I’m covered by the protection of faith. … I can always prevail and get through it.”
It’s a glass-half-full take from Westbrook, but the former MVP knows he has a $47 million player option for next season.
Lakers’ Disappointing Season Coming to a Close
There are still three games left in the Lakers’ season, but they will not mean anything with L.A. in 11th place in the Western Conference and unable to even make the four-team play-in tournament. The Lakers opened the season with the second-best odds to win the title, behind the Brooklyn Nets, who at 41-38 and headed for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament also underwhelmed.
“Extremely disappointed,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said after the loss to the Suns. “Disappointed for our fan base. Disappointed for the Buss family, who gave us all this opportunity and we want to play our part in bringing success to Laker basketball and we fell short.”
Vogel is not expected to be back with the team next season after a three-year stint. He helped the Lakers win the title in the bubble in 2020 but has gone 73-77 over the last two seasons.