Russell Westbrook does not want to play for hometown Lakers

Kevin Durant is the hot free agent name right now, but fellow Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook is another name to keep an eye on next year as his contract runs out.

The All-Star guard grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and many have wondered if he might be interested in playing for his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.

However, when confronted with that question on Saturday after the All-Star Game practice, he made it clear playing in Los AngelesĀ isĀ not on his radar at all, via News OK’s Anthony Slater:

“Nah, I like where I am now. Oklahoma City is a great place for me.”

It’s interesting to note the word “now.”

Perhaps he really doesn’t like where the Lakers as an organization is headed right now and really does see a brighter future for himself in Oklahoma City.

Or, perhaps Westbrook is simply to savvy to reveal his intentions at this time and is inwardly dying to jump ship after the 2016-17 season to play for the team he grew up watching as a kid.

The benefits of playing in Los Angeles are clear for any big star looking to make some big dollars for his work both on and off the court. It’s a prime gig, and with it comes both the responsibility and glory of further establishing one of the Association’s most prestigious legacies.

Of further note in the attractiveness department is the fact that with Kobe Bryant leaving after this year, there will be a huge vacuum of star power to fill, and Westbrook has that kind of clout.

Even if Westbrook did harbor secret desires to play for the Lakers, he and his Thunder teammates are currently trying to prove they belong in the conversation with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference.

Heading into the All-Star break, Oklahoma City is the No. 3 seed behind those giants with a record of 40-14. Meanwhile the Lakers are comfortably at the bottom of the heap with a record of 11-44.