Damian Lillard jabs Lakers for their treatment of Russell Westbrook as he discusses his future in NBA

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

Damian Lillard has made it clear that he’s not really a fan of the way the Los Angeles Lakers treated Russel Westbrook after the veteran guard got to L.A.

“When Russ went to the Lakers, everybody was, ‘The Lakers!’ You know what I mean,” Lillard said. “Then they got Russ coming off the bench like he’s not a Hall of Famer. And try to put a battery in his back like, ‘Man, if you come off the bench, that’d be like.’ Man, that’s Russell Westbrook. Like, what?”

Lillard may have crossed the Lakers off his list of possible trade destinations because of the way they handled Westbrook after acquiring him from the Washington Wizards in a multi-team deal prior to the 2021-22 NBA season.

Lillard this week drew some attention when he named the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets as possible destinations if he were to leave the Portland Trail Blazers.

The guard will be 33 years old in July, the same age Westbrook turned in November of his first season with the Lakers. The two also opened their careers with long stints with one team. Lillard just completed his 11th season with the Trail Blazers, the only NBA team he has played for to date, and Westbrook started his NBA journey with 11 seasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

After being traded by the Thunder, Westbrook bounced from the Houston Rockets to the Wizards to the Lakers, who traded him to the Utah Jazz this February. Utah bought him out less than two weeks later, and he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, playing 21 regular season games plus all five games of a first-round playoff loss to the Phoenix Suns.

It’s possible to glean from Lillard’s comments that he does not want the treatment Westbrook has gotten to happen to him. Portland reportedly is planning to build around Lillard in an effort to get back in contention rather than let him go to help facilitate a rebuilding process.

A trade to Miami could give Lillard a better opportunity to win his first NBA championship as he enters the later stages of his career. The Heat could have a need for a guard if Gabe Vincent signs elsewhere as a free agent, and a trio of Lillard, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo could keep them in contention in the near future.

Miami has made a surprising run to the NBA Finals and will try to even the series against the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 on Friday night.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.