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Westbrook: ‘I was never given a fair chance to be who I needed to be’

Russell Westbrook’s rough season with the Los Angeles Lakers ended with the point guard out of action for the final three games of the year and it’s possible he won’t return for the 2022-23 season. Trade rumors are already swirling and the Lakers appear ready to make sweeping changes, beginning Monday with the firing of coach Frank Vogel.

While Westbrook said last week that his plan was to return for another season with the Lakers, he sounded resigned to the possibility that his days with the team are over during a press conference Monday.

“Unfortunately people create narratives of me and who I am and what I do and what I believe in that just aren’t true,” Westbrook said. “I’m always having to prove myself again year after year after year, which to me is unfair. There’s no reason I should have to do that.

“So when I first got here, I just felt like I was never given a fair chance just to be who I needed to be to better help this team.”

Westbrook, 33, scored 18.5 points per game — his lowest average since his second season in the NBA — with 7.1 assists and 7.4 rebounds. During his 2020-21 season with the Washington Wizards, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.7 assists, and 11.5 rebounds. The Lakers acquired him in an August trade that sent six players to the Wizards, including Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Los Angeles finished the season 33-49 and missed the playoffs.

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