Russell Westbrook says he ‘immediately’ found himself in a better place mentally after being traded from Lakers

David Akerman
3 Min Read

Russell Westbrook seemed to be playing on borrowed time for the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in the 2022-23 season. His name was constantly involved in trade rumors while his play on the court wasn’t too great.

The Lakers eventually traded him to the Utah Jazz, ending a failed partnership that began with really high hopes.

Westbrook was later bought out of his contract with the Jazz, and he wound up signing with the Los Angeles Clippers. The one-time league MVP improved with the Clippers during the regular season, recording 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game on 48.9 percent shooting from the field and 35.6 percent shooting from 3-point range.

After his team was eliminated from the 2023 NBA Playoffs by the Phoenix Suns, the nine-time All-Star admitted that he found himself in a better place mentally “immediately” after leaving the Lakers.

The former first-round pick showed flashes of his old self against the Suns in the playoffs, but his efforts weren’t enough to overcome a stacked Suns roster. Injuries to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard obviously didn’t help.

George suffered a right knee injury that forced him to miss the closing weeks of the regular season and entirety of the series against the Suns. As for Leonard, he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus after missing the series’ final three games, all of which ended in Clippers losses.

Fans hoping to see a playoff series between the Lakers and Clippers will have to wait another year at least. The in-town rivals have never faced off against each other in the NBA Playoffs.

While the Lakers have historically dominated games between the two sides, the Clippers have actually won 11 straight regular season contests in the series. The last time the Lakers beat the Clippers in a regular season game was in July of 2020 in the NBA’s Orlando, Fla. bubble.

The Lakers are on the cusp of advancing to the second round of this season’s playoffs. They hold a 3-1 lead and have a great chance to close out the No. 2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Should the Grizzlies win on Wednesday, the series would shift back to Los Angeles for Game 6. A potential Game 7 would take place in Memphis on Sunday.

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David is a University of Maryland graduate who has spent most of his life in Miami. He has experience in writing, editing and video production. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.