‘Unfortunate’ that outgoing coach Frank Vogel didn’t connect with me

Now that the Los Angeles Lakers’ disappointing season is over and they fired coach Frank Vogel with one year left on his contract, Russell Westbrook opened up about the issues that plagued him all season long.

After being acquired in the offseason and adding to the hype that the Lakers had championship potential, Westbrook never fully fit in with his new team

“I think it’s unfortunate, to be honest, because I’ve never had an issue with any of my coaches before,” Westbrook said Monday in a press conference. “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.”

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook falls to the court during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, March 31, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Westbrook’s 18.5 points-per-game mark was the lowest of his career since 2009-10, when he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder and averaged 16.1. While Westbrook, 33, has had to alter his game slightly as he has aged, his style has been to take the ball and push the tempo up the court, being aggressive in transition and on offense.

“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,” he said.

Westbrook then took aim at L.A. stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the cornerstones of the team, for what he felt was duplicitous support for his game. Westbrook invoked a phrase that came up this season — “let Russ be Russ” — and said that while James and Davis expressed the thought, he didn’t think they meant it.

“Yeah,” Westbrook said when asked about James and Davis saying that in support of his play. “But that wasn’t true.

“It’s a combination of where we are on the floor, positioning, fit and challenge, trial and error, being able to play on the floor with each other,” Westbrook continued. “Finding ways to be able to utilize us to the best of our abilities. It’s that simple.”

Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and the 2016-17 NBA Most Valuable Player, was the Lakers’ highest-paid player,…

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