Russell Westbrook responds to Charles Barkley’s claim that he’s lost interest in basketball

A potential trade with Russell Westbrook remains one of the main stories of the Los Angeles Lakers season – which inevitably comes to the fore after opening night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Westbrook finished Tuesday’s game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. But the good numbers don’t hide the fact that he remains an awkward fit in LA due to his high turnover play and poor 3-point shooting.

The latter seems to be a particularly troubling issue this year given that the Lakers don’t have many shooters on their roster. The weakness was evident Tuesday as the Warriors, among other Lakers players, kept sagging from the 2017 NBA MVP — rather than plugging paint to take away lanes.

Purple and Gold’s problems became increasingly apparent ahead of halftime, prompting NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley to say the Lakers-Westbrook marriage is beyond repair — and that the Guardian is the joy seems to have lost at basketball:

“It’s about time the Lakers moved him,” Barkley said on TNT. “They took away all of his joy in life and basketball. … He doesn’t look … this guy used to be so exuberant, played with great energy and great emotion. I think the mental wear and tear, last year, since this year, when I played with Patrick Beverley… and the thing is, he’s going to get the blame no matter what because the Lakers aren’t a contender for the championship.

Barkley also said it was in the interest of both parties to go their separate ways:

“… I find [Westbrook] needs a fresh start; I think the Lakers need a fresh start.”

Asked about Barkley’s comments, Westbrook responded after the game via LA Times’ Dan Woike:

“You know, man, I’m super blessed and I have a lot of faith in my faith,” Westbrook said. “So I have a lot of great friends and family, good people in my corner who support me through thick and thin and when I have God in my corner it doesn’t really matter what happens outside of it. I stay the course, stay focused, stay tuned. That’s all I can ask for. Everything else that comes with it, I will keep doing what I do, focus on my craft and everything else will take care of itself.”

In good news for Westbrook, the guard returned to the starting lineup after slipping off the bench in the preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings.

And Patrick Beverley later said he needed his former enemy to join him in the Lakers’ opening session.

Lakers are not expected to act until after Thanksgiving

Though Westbrook started on the Lakers roster in 2022-23, his exit before the February close still feels inevitable. However, reports say LA is unlikely to make any significant personnel changes before Thanksgiving.

Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka is understood to be waiting for more opportunities in the trade market in hopes of finding a Westbrook deal that doesn’t force Purple and Gold to give up their 2027 and 2029 first. round pickaxes.

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