Westbrook: 'I was never given a fair chance' in 1st season with Lakers
There were high expectations for Russell Westbrook's first campaign with the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers, but both he and the team failed to live up to the hype placed upon them.
The nine-time All-Star spoke out on his year in Los Angeles, reflecting on a season in which he averaged 18.5 points per game - his lowest total since 2009-10 - and that saw the Lakers miss the playoffs entirely with a 33-49 record.
"I just felt like I was never given a fair chance to be who I needed to be to help this team," Westbrook told reporters, including The Orange County Register's Kyle Goon.
Westbrook had been accustomed to playing a high-usage role offensively throughout the prime of his career but gave up touches to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Much like his point total, his usage rate was his lowest since his sophomore season.
James and Davis supported Westbrook to the media throughout the campaign and suggested they'd "let Russ be Russ," but the point guard didn't believe his teammates' encouragement, adding that it "wasn't true."
With Westbrook playing off the ball more frequently alongside James' ball-dominant style, the 33-year-old was relegated to shooting more jumpers but hit just under 30% of his 3-pointers on the year. As teams began to sag off of him, hurting the spacing on the court, head coach Frank Vogel cut his minutes, leading to a clear disconnect between the bench boss and Westbrook that the guard didn't deny.
"I've never had an issue with any of my coaches before," Westbrook said. "I'm not sure what his issue was with me."
All told, Westbrook could pick up his $47 million player option and come back to L.A. next season, which he was non-committal about in his press conference. Westbrook won't be playing for the recently fired Vogel if he does choose to return.
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