Russell Westbrook and the Lakers look to repair their season
Whatever Russell Westbrook felt about his name being in the Lakers’ trade rumors he was not sharing after practice on Friday in San Francisco.
The NBA trade deadline passed on Thursday and Westbrook remained with the Lakers.
He was asked on Zoom videoconference how he felt about still being with the Lakers and what are the prospects for the Lakers (26-30, ninth in the Western Conference) to have a better season.
“Umm, you know, I’m looking forward to getting into the [All-Star] break, getting ready to make a splash run and that we’re moving in the direction we need to as a team, collectively and making sure that we try to put our best foot forward as a collective group,” Westbrook said.
The Lakers made no moves and have lost six of their last eight games. Practice on Friday made things clearer for the team.
“We got some clarity on a few things that we can put down and go use when we see it on the floor,” Westbrook said. “But good practice overall for our group. And obviously, we know what we gonna have, and how we’re moving forward as a group. And that’s that.”
With limited options, the Lakers were unable to make any moves before the NBA trade deadline at noon PST Thursday. They’ll focus now on buyout market.
Before the trade deadline, Lakers coach Frank Vogel admitted “there was bad energy” with the team and that manifested itself in a blowout loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena and a close loss at Portland on Wednesday night to a severely undermanned Trail Blazers team.
Vogel noticed a better vibe as the Lakers prepared to play the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The Lakers also had a wine outing in Napa on Thursday, allowing the players a chance to relax a little.
“It’s a new day,” Vogel said. “I think our group had great energy today — both in a team film session and in practice. I think there’s just a natural reset energy to our group, knowing that the trade deadline has passed.
“This is the group that we put together to start the year. This is a group we believe in. And I think every team feels that on some level, but I think our group in particular, with how we played the last two games and how we were feeling about our group, there was a bad energy to it. But I think with that deadline passing and having a refreshed mindset today, our group had really good energy about going out and trying to win a game tomorrow and understanding and believing in what we can do this year.”
Westbrook missed his first game of the season at Portland because of lower back tightness.
He said it began to bother him during the Milwaukee game, becoming an issue because he’s “not accustomed” to “sitting down in long stretches” during the game and then “moving quickly” to get back in the game.
The Lakers’ season-long woes continued Tuesday in a loss to Milwaukee, with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook a struggling star trio.
“I’ll see how I feel in the morning, making sure that I’m ready to go,” Westbrook said. “But just day by day at the moment. Just making sure that everything is moving the way I need to move and making sure that I’m moving the way I need to in order to be able to play tomorrow night.”
The Lakers have 26 regular-season games left. That’s what Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the team’s three stars, have remaining to pull the Lakers out of their funk and try to climb into playoff position and out of the play-in tournament.
“We all got the same goal,” Westbrook said. “We all have a goal, and that’s to win a championship. And with that comes responsibilities on all our hands, and responsibilities with each individual in the locker room, coaching staff included, that we all have to uphold and find ways to be able to do that as the season goes along. And that’s where we at.”
AT GOLDEN STATE
When: 5:30 p.m., Saturday.
On the air: TV: Ch. 7; Radio: 710, 1330.
Update: Stephen Curry is ranked first in the NBA in three-pointers made per game (4.7) and leads the Warriors in scoring (25.7), assists (6.4) and steals (1.4). First-time All-Star forward Andrew Wiggins is second on the team in scoring (18.0) and Klay Thompson, in just 13 games, is third on the team (16.7). The Warriors are first in the league in three-pointers made per game (14.6), third in attempts (40.3) and fourth in percentage (36.3%).
Broderick Turner reported from Los Angeles.
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