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New Wizard Westbrook tries to make trade questions vanish

Russell Westbrook fronted the media on Saturday after joining the Washington Wizards.

New Wizard Westbrook tries to make trade questions vanish

Russell Westbrook said he is happy to be with the Washington Wizards after being asked if he requested a trade from the Houston Rockets.

Westbrook appears for media quizzing

Westbrook landed in Washington after the Wizards acquired the former NBA MVP in a trade that sent franchise favourite John Wall and a future lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Rockets on Wednesday.

Nine-time All-Star Westbrook only spent one season alongside James Harden in Houston, where the latter is reportedly seeking a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

Westbrook was quizzed on his Rockets departure as he fronted the media on Saturday, and he told reporters: "I'm here in Washington.

"Happy about where I'm at and understanding that this is a new journey for me and understanding how important it is to focus on where I'm at, focus on the team, focus on the organisation, the community, the people here."

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points and seven assists per game for the Rockets, who had their 14th consecutive season at .500 or better but failed to reach the NBA Finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

But Westbrook's struggles were evident in the playoffs – shooting just 24.2 per cent from three-point range and 53.1 per cent from the free-throw line.

Westbrook was the first player in NBA history to shoot under 25 per cent from three and under 60 per cent from the line in a single postseason (minimum 30 attempts in both categories).

Houston had a 29-13 record when Westbrook shot less than five times from beyond the arc compared to 10-13 when attempting five or more.

While Westbrook remains one of the NBA's elite scorers and creators, concerns over his demeanour and character continue to linger.

"Where do you want me to start?" Westbrook said when asked about what is most misunderstood about him. "Well listen, I think the underlying thing about that is 90 per cent, 100 per cent is not even true.

"Because a lot of times, the things that are made up, people don't actually know me to be able to say anything about me or what I am about or what I believe in. ... The biggest thing for me is just kind of going and being myself, which is easy because being myself, I can be genuine and loyal and understanding. Obviously, I am not the easiest guy to understand, whatever, watch play, whatever people may think."

Westbrook was crowned MVP in 2017 but the 32-year-old is yet to win a championship, though he insisted a title will not define his legacy.

"Legacy for me is based on how many people I impact and inspire along my journey," Westbrook said. "I grew up in underserved communities, I understand what it's like, I understand the struggle, I understand what it means and what it's like to be a Black African American in society.

"It's important that somebody that has the power, the impact, the ability, the impact, the outreach to be able to put their foot down and make a stand. To me, that is legacy. That creates legacy long term."


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