EL SEGUNDO, CA – With Frank Vogel sacked as Los Angeles Lakers coach earlier in the day, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has opened up about the split that existed between the two in his first season in Los Angeles.
“I think it’s unfortunate, frankly, because I’ve never had a problem with any of my coaches before,” Westbrook said Monday after his exit interview with the Lakers front office. “I’m not sure what his problem is with me or I’m not sure why, but I can’t really give you an answer as to why we never contacted.”
Westbrook, who was the Lakers’ highest-paid player during the 2021-22 season, has not only finished tightening his grip on the coach. He took aim at several other aspects of his Lakers experience that veered into his 21-minute press conference, detailing how he felt he had been wronged.
“When I first got here, being able to do what I can do for a team and organization was not a fair chance,” he said.
Westbrook continued to blame false news reports as a contributing factor to his struggles last season.
“The famous ‘source’ stories that have come out of me, whether it’s between me and the cast, between me and Frank, me and the fans, there are a lot of made-up stories that are not true,” Westbrook said. “He just always has to fight that constantly. It’s not like that [being] Give a fair chance. He’s like, ‘Okay, now I have to fight this made-up story. Now I have to fight this. Now I will fight this. Now I have to fight this. “
When asked directly to name one example of a trumped-up story about his time with the Lakers, he did not provide a definitive answer.
No, Westbrook said. “I can’t. You know the examples. I don’t want to have the details, what the story is, who wrote it, why… It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t really matter because it’s not true. If it isn’t.” t come from me [it is not true]. “
The 2017 Major League Player of the Year also said that LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ repeated intentions to “let Ross be Ross” in unlocking the best version of the former All-Star were deceptive.
“yes, [they said it]’ said Westbrook. But this was not true. “
When asked to clarify, Westbrook said it had to do with the pieces being unable to complement each other.
“It’s a combination of where we are on the ground, positioning, fitness and challenge, trial and error, and the ability to play on the ground with each other,” Westbrook said. “Finding ways to be able to use us to the best of our abilities. It’s that simple.”
Westbrook, who has a player option for next season worth $47 million, had little answer when asked if he planned to play it. “Um,” he said, “I will make the decision.” This is why it is called ‘Player’s Choice’.
Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka has not committed to giving the James-Davis-Westbrook group another chance next season, should Westbrook sign up.
“Like any player, we will partner with him after making that decision on what is best for his future,” Pelinka said. “Rest assured, we will look under every stone for ways to be better and be open to anything that will improve our team and will put us in a position to compete at a higher level next year than we did this year.”
Westbrook, who played 78 games and averaged 18.5 points for 44.4% shots (29.8% from 3), 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game, admitted that his production did not meet his personal standards.
“Just my theatrics in general, not my best season, just being out of my personal realm,” he said. “Obviously I’m averaging a triple-double so anything less than that wouldn’t be a good season for me in my eyes, you know what I’m saying? That’s why his source metric is a little different.”
After a loss to the Phoenix Suns last week that officially eliminated the Lakers from competing in the championship, Westbrook said the “plan” would be to play in Los Angeles again next season so he, James and Davis can see their form together. With the benefit of health. They have played only 21 games together this season due to various injuries, batting 11-10.
“I just hope we’ll have a chance to do something,” he said.
After all the grievances Westbrook shared on Monday, he was asked what would tempt him to want to play for the Lakers again, with the added context that it appears to be inconsistent with his earlier announcement.
“I mean, obviously there will be a lot of different changes depending on who the coach is and how we play and how we play,” he said. “So, that question is kind of up in the air. But once that decision is made, we’ll kind of start from there.”