Pacific Notes: Westbrook, Lakers, Payton, K. Thompson

Russell Westbrook is glad to be in a situation where he feels wanted, but the Clippers only have a short time to figure out his best role with the team, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN. L.A. shook up its backcourt with this week’s signing of Westbrook and trade deadline deals for Eric Gordon and Bones Hyland. It hasn’t been determined who will start and what the combinations will look like, and coach Tyronn Lue only has 21 games remaining to get his rotations in place.

“If he’s doing too much or not enough, I’ll let him know,” Lue said of Westbrook. “But we want him to be the player that he is, the MVP, the Hall of Famer, everything he brings every single night. We want him to be that person, that player. And then we’ve just got to make sure that it’s in the confines of our team and what we’re trying to do team-wise.”

Westbrook was stuck in a difficult situation with the Lakers, where he was a poor fit and an easy target for the team’s disappointing performance. A trade to Utah and a buyout with the Jazz gave him a chance to reset his career, and he said at Wednesday’s introductory press conference that he’s happy to be able to stay in L.A. and help the Clippers contend for a title.

“For me, it’s just finding my way to be able to help other guys,” Westbrook said. “It’s something I truly embrace, and that’s what I will do — make sure I can make the game easy for all these guys that are here, find out their spots, what they like, what they don’t like. And that’s going to be a process for me, but I’m ready for the challenge and looking forward to it.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers also remade their roster this month in hopes of making a push for the playoffs. Coach Darvin Ham tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN that three of the team’s newcomers — D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt — will be part of the starting lineup going forward. L.A.’s next seven games are against teams that it’s trailing in the Western Conference playoff race, and Ham knows they’re all important. “If we fall into a play-in situation, so be it,” he said. “But our No. 1 goal is to go secure a (playoff) spot, not just throw games off here or there (and) just wish for a play-in. We want to go secure a spot.”
  • The Warriors will reevaluate Gary Payton II‘s condition in about a month in hopes that he can be ready for the playoffs, according to Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Golden State opted to go through with a four-team trade even though Payton wasn’t able to pass his physical. “Just have to take it day by day,” Payton said. “When the medical staff and I agree that things are good and it’s safe for me to get back out there and be able to be myself and my body feels like itself, we’ll come up with a decision.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Klay Thompson should be available for back-to-back games for the rest of the season, tweets Madeline Kennedy of The Bay Area News Group.
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