NBA: Russell Westbrook says Lakers role is to 'make game easy' for LeBron James

Russell Westbrook said it was a "blessing" to land in Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook said it was a "blessing" to land in Los Angeles.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS) - Star guard Russell Westbrook says his role with his new Los Angeles Lakers teammates will be simple - and it includes making things easier for superstar LeBron James.

The Lakers landed him in a blockbuster deal with the Washington Wizards with hopes that a "Big Three" line-up of James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis could push them back to the top in the 2022-2023 season after they failed to retain the National Basketball Association (NBA) title last month.

On Tuesday, Westbrook was officially introduced, the Southern California native saying it was a "blessing" to land in Los Angeles where had many memories of Lakers glory.

"I'm coming to a championship calibre team and my job is make sure that I'm able to make (James') game easy for him, and I'll find ways to do that throughout the game," he vowed.

"As it pertains to ball-handling and all that, it really doesn't matter. There are many different ways you can impact the game without having the ball in your hands."

James and Davis led the Lakers to the 2019 NBA title, but their push for a repeat was hindered by injury.

Westbrook, 32, is a uniquely gifted player. He was the 2017 NBA Most Valuable Player with Oklahoma City, where he played from 2008 through 2019.

He was traded to Houston, then traded last December to Washington, where he helped the Wizards reach the play-offs for the first time since 2018.

The nine-time NBA All-Star, who won Olympic gold in 2012, has led the NBA in assists in three of the past four seasons and was the league scoring champion in 2015 and 2017.

In 2017, he set a record with 42 triple doubles in a season - amassing double-digit statistics in points, assists and rebounds - in 42 games - and joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for a full campaign.

Westbrook managed the feat in three of the next four seasons as well, his record career tally of triple doubles now standing at 184.

But the fiercely competitive player has also been criticised for his lack of post-season success, where his willingness to take on the other team by himself has sometimes put his team at a disadvantage. Despite his all-around excellence, his teams have combined to win just one play-off series in the last five years.

Some pundits have wondered how he will mesh with James and Davis.

Westbrook said that will not be a problem.

"I will always stay true to who I am. But with that said, I'll also make sure that I am able to listen and be all ears because I am coming to an unbelievable organisation and a team with players that I'm able to learn from," he insisted.

"I'm always looking at the roster and seeing how I can make other guys better."

The player, who is entering his 14th season, said he is clear on his role and determined to help the franchise hang its 18th championship banner at the end of next season.

"It's my job to do what I'm supposed to do and make sure we have a chance to compete for a championship," he said.

The NBA regular season begins on Oct 19.