RUSSELL Westbrook will exercise his $47.1-million player option and return to the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2022-23 season, ESPN and The Athletic reported on Tuesday.
The nine-time All-Star point guard and 2016-2017 Most Valuable Player is entering the final season of a five-year, $206-million contract. Westbrook, 33, was facing a Wednesday deadline to opt-in with the Lakers and new head coach Darvin Ham.
In his first season in Los Angeles in 2021-2022, Westbrook didn’t mesh well with ex-coach Frank Vogel and became a target of fans as injuries pulled apart the veteran-laden roster. Westbrook posted his lowest scoring average since 2009-2010.
The Lakers are counting on a bounce-back year from Westbrook and better health from co-stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis next season.
A two-time NBA scoring champion, Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 78 games last season. He has career averages of 22.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.4 assists in 1,021 games (1,000 starts) with the Oklahoma City Thunder (2008-2019), Houston Rockets (2019-2020), Washington Wizards (2020-2021) and Lakers. — Reuters