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Two weeks after being acquired by the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade with the Utah Jazz, Patrick Beverley was introduced as a Laker for the first time on Tuesday, and only one teammate was in attendance.
“Super excited,” Beverley said when asked about playing with Westbrook. “I was asked this question two, three years ago, about someone I always wanted to play with and he was the first name. I’ve been knowing Bron [LeBron James] since I was a baby, a rookie in this league, so obviously, I want to play with him.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK ‘MORE LIKELY’ TO BE OFF LAKERS’ ACTIVE ROSTER FOLLOWING PATRICK BEVERLEY TRADE: REPORT
“But a player with that competitive spirit, that fire, that will, that dog, that nastiness, that grit. To have a running mate like that, I have never had that. So I am super excited to see where it goes. Obviously like any relationship or any marriage, things, we are going to have tough conversations. That's what comes with winning, but I’m excited about those conversations, I’m excited about the practices. I’m just excited to be able to compete with someone like that.”
Westbrook and Beverley have a contentious relationship dating back to the 2013 season, when Beverley went for a steal as a member of the Houston Rockets, colliding with Westbrook’s knee and injuring him in the process. The two have traded barbs through the media since, and last season Beverley taunted Westbrook during a Minnesota Timberwolves win over the Lakers in March.
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“I think it’s perfect,” Beverley said when asked about the fit between the two guards. “I shoot a ton out of the right corner wing. He posts on the left wing.
“It works to have another ball handler out there with me. Obviously with LeBron, also. I think the more ball handlers I think the better you are as a team.”
It’s been a tough year for Westbrook after being acquired by Los Angeles in a July 2021 trade with the Washington Wizards.
What followed was one of Westbrook’s most difficult NBA seasons, with the guard averaging his lowest point totals since his second season in the league while shooting just 29.8% from beyond the three-point line as the Lakers went 33-49 and missed the playoffs.
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He’s been rumored to be on the trading block for months, with a report from The Athletic stating that the move for Beverley makes it more likely that the Lakers will either trade Westbrook or send him home before training camp.
On Tuesday, first-year head coach Darvin Ham told reporters that he would consider pairing the two guards together in the starting lineup.
“If they play defense,” Ham said, according to ESPN. “We've got a while. That's still a ways off, but definitely. People get caught up in the starting lineups a lot, but you look at who is finishing games. Those starters, they're out there to set that tone for the entire team throughout the game.”