Lakers guard Russell Westbrook was expected to be a big part of their quest for an NBA championship. Those expectations have fallen far short so far.

Westbrook, who is averaging 18.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.1 assists on 43.7 percent shooting this season, has had just 23 points in his last three games and has made just 8 of 40 shooting attempts. threw. The Lakers lost two of those three games and have lost eight of their last 13 since Dec. 17.

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While Los Angeles superstar forward LeBron James excelled this season, averaging 29.1 points with 7.4 rebounds and 6.6 assists, Westbrook’s struggles and injury issues with Lakers forward Anthony Davis have prevented the team reaches its potential, along with injuries and absences related to COVID-19. .

Despite those on-court concerns, Westbrook shared in a recent interview with The Athletic’s Sam Amick that he’s still happy to be in Los Angeles, given that he’s a SoCal native and remains very close to his parents and children.

“I can be home and be able to hug them,” Westbrook said. “They see me, and as they get older, I see my children every day and take them to school every morning. For me, that brings joy.”

Here’s more from Westbrook’s interview.

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Basketball not ‘end-all-be-all’:

Although Westbrook may be on the trade market before the Feb. 10 trade deadline, he said he’s not worried about what the fans and the media think of him.

“I swear, nobody can imagine it because everyone thinks that basketball is the end of everything, but it really isn’t, you know?” he said. “Sportswriters…everyone has their own opinion. But I really think being able to do (being in Los Angeles) and hug my kids, it makes them, it puts a smile on my face, regardless of what’s going on right now.”

Westbrook’s fit in Los Angeles was met with skepticism when he was traded to the Lakers for guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, forwards Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell and the 22nd pick in the 2023 NBA Draft last July. The Lakers ranked 23rd in 3-point percentage last season and needed more floor space around James and Davis. Westbrook is a 30.5% career three-point shooter.

This season, the Lakers rank 14th in 3-point percentage, but Westbrook is shooting just 28.3% from distance. (Note: Westbrook’s career low of three is 22.1% and came in 2009 with the Thunder.)

Westbrook has had to change his style of play with the Lakers, a ball-dominant origin of the game, in an attempt to make more cuts and short games against James.

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It has yet to work consistently for the Lakers, who have gone on a five-game losing streak with five wins in six games and then two losses in their last 13 games. His inconsistent up-and-down play has the Lakers at 21-21 at the season’s midpoint, good enough for seventh place in the Western Conference.

“We’re all trying to figure it out as a team, as a unit, so we can say, ‘Okay, how can we figure this out?’” Westbrook said in our chat. “And I know I’m the one that has to make the biggest sacrifice, and I understand that, so I have to be able to find a way to make the best of it and do my best. for this team and that’s it.

Will Westbrook be traded?

With less than a month to go until the trade deadline, it’s unclear if Westbrook will be moving from Los Angeles.

Set to earn $44.2 million this season and a player option for next season worth more than $47 million, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a suitor who would take such a big contract for Westbrook’s current output.

According to Amick, the 76ers reportedly have “zero” interest in a trade for Westbrook and perhaps forward Ben Simmons. Another rumored package has been with the Timberwolves for guard D’Angelo Russell, though there doesn’t seem to be much traction with him.

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For now, though, Westbrook is aware of the possibility and says he’s happy in Los Angeles, despite the struggles on the court.

“Regardless of whether (a trade) happened or didn’t happen, nothing is going to change my mindset or my purpose,” Westbrook told Amick. “I feel like I have a purpose that is bigger than basketball and I always keep it at the forefront regardless of what happens within professional sports.”