BEN ANDERSON

Utah Jazz: Russell Westbrook ‘Open To Being Here’

Feb 10, 2023, 2:32 PM | Updated: 3:33 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said the team doesn’t have any definitive plans for the recently acquired Russell Westbrook, but that the high-profile guard is open to playing for the team.

The Jazz acquired Westbrook along with Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Damian Jones before Thursday’s trade deadline along with a lightly protected first round draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers.

“We are open to all sorts of possibilities with him,” Zanik said. “And he has been very positive on being here in Utah and we’ve been very open to the possibilities of him.”

Westbrook has been a strong candidate to be bought out by the Jazz which would him to sign with another team looking to make a run to the playoffs.

The guard has averaged 15.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.2 rebounds coming off the bench this season for the Lakers.

Despite his strong averages, Westbrook is shooting just 41 percent from the floor and 29 percent from the three-point line.

He also has a long and difficult history in the state of Utah including a meme-worthy locker room exchange with local media, and an incident in which he received racially insensitive taunts from a since-banned Jazz fan.

“This is the first time in his career he has been in a position like this and we wanted to be very transparent of where we are as an organization,” Zanik said. “He’s been very open to different roles in that, and so we’re just giving him some time and continuing to talk.”

The roster is thin at the guard position after trading Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, but valued the opportunity to open more minutes for first-year Jazzmen Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Leandro Bolmaro.

“There haven’t been any possibilities eliminated,” Zanik said of Westbrook. “But he’s been great. He’s been great to talk to, he’s such a professional and actually very complimentary of the Jazz and the organization and is open to being here.”

While the Jazz and Westbrook continue to work on a solution on his future, both Toscano-Anderson and Jones are expected to join the team in New York before facing the Knick on Saturday.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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