Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Wizards, Rozier, Collins, Bamba

Addressing a report that said Russell Westbrook helped engineer his trade to the Lakers, Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard downplayed Westbrook’s desire to leave Washington, suggesting the point guard asked about going to the Lakers, but didn’t want to be traded just anywhere.

“I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller (link via Matt Weyirch of NBC Sports Washington). “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”

While Sheppard is being diplomatic, it would’ve been interesting to see whether Westbrook was truly happy to return to the Wizards for another season if the deal with the Lakers hadn’t worked out. The Athletic’s in-depth report earlier this week suggested that Westbrook tried to convince Bradley Beal early in the offseason that both of them should ask out of Washington.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Two years after joining the Hornets as a free agent, Terry Rozier signed a new long-term extension with the team this offseason and said on Tuesday that he feels like he’s found a home in Charlotte. “When you first get here, you just don’t know what to expect,” Rozier said, according to Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “You are on the back-burner trying to find everything out, and then fast forward to now and I love it. I love it. It’s so peaceful. The people are so nice. I say that all the time. It’s different for me and I love it.”
  • Armed with a new five-year, $125MM contract, Hawks forward John Collins is looking forward to focusing exclusively on his on-court performance without having worry about his contract situation, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t have to think about getting traded. I don’t have to think about losing what I built, and I don’t have to think about packing my house up,” Collins said. “… I know I’m going to be here, and I can continue to build. I’m just happy I get to finish, or try to finish, what I started.”
  • Magic center Mohamed Bamba has struggled to make a consistent impact since entering the NBA in 2018, but he views the arrival of new head coach Jamahl Mosley as an opportunity for a fresh start, writes Julia Poe of The Orlando Sentinel. Mosley wants to see Bamba make better reads on offense and be an anchor on the defensive end.
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