Russell Westbrook Says He ‘Wasn’t Given a Fair Chance’ In First Season With Lakers
During exit interviews with the media, Russell Westbrook was candid about how he felt his first season went with the Los Angeles Lakers and the apparent ‘disconnect’ he had with former Laker coach Frank Vogel.
“I think it’s unfortunate, to be honest because I’ve never had an issue with any of my coaches before,” Westbrook said on Monday per ESPN. “I’m not sure what his issue was with me, or I’m not sure why, but I can’t really give you an answer to why we really never connected.”
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists on the season and struggled with his efficiency, shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 29.8 percent on 3.4 3-point attempts a game. The Lakers (33-49) finished 11th in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs for the second time in the last four seasons despite a loaded roster led by Westbrook, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.
Do the Lakers owe Russell Westbrook an apology? pic.twitter.com/VoZFOprZ0Q— SLAM (@SLAMonline) April 5, 2022
This disconnect between Vogel and Westbrook came to the forefront as Vogel was reportedly permitted to bench Westbrook in the fourth quarter of close games. The news came as the fourth-year coach of the Lakers was facing increased scrutiny and questions of job security as the Lakers dealt with piling injuries and a turnstile defense.
“When I first got here, the ability to be able to do what I’m able to do for a team and an organization wasn’t given a fair chance,” Westbrook said about his role.
Westbrook is eligible to sign a $47 million player option over the offseason. Although his intentions to resign aren’t clear, he admitted that his production didn’t meet his standards after averaging a triple-double in his lone season with the Washington Wizards. The main thing that will lead him to resign is how the Lakers will fill the void at head coach and figure out the play style that the new coach will implement.