Three hours before the start of Thursday’s NBA Draft, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook backed away from blunt statements he made in a magazine regarding the team’s possible addition of Ricky Rubio.
Westbrook, sporting a new Mohawk hairstyle, appeared on ESPN’s Jim Rome is Burning and claimed he doesn’t remember telling ESPN The Magazine in response to the idea of the Thunder drafting the 18-year-old Spanish point guard, “You trippin’”
“I don’t recall saying that,” Westbrook said. “I don’t remember saying that at all.”
In the newest issue of the magazine, Westbrook was quoted as saying he would draft Arizona’s State shooting guard James Harden with the third overall pick and Ohio State center B.J. Mullens with the 25th selection.
On Thursday, Westbrook said a potential pairing of he and Rubio could work.
“It wouldn’t be a bad situation for us,” Westbrook said. “But I would just leave that up to Oklahoma City and hopefully they make the right decision.
When asked if the pairing could work, Westbrook said, “Whatever’s good for the team, I’m going to try my best to contribute to the team in anyway I can.”
Westbrook did, however, reiterate statements he made time and time again throughout the season about being a natural point guard and wanting to remain at the position rather than move to shooting guard.
“I feel like I’m a true (point guard),” Westbrook said. “I’ve been playing point guard all my life. And I’ve been trying to get better at learning different things, especially in the NBA point guard is a tough position.”
Westbrook campaigned for Harden in the magazine by saying, “He can handle, shoot and he’s athletic. And he was in a good system at Arizona State.” His take on Mullens: “Mullens is a good rebounder and a big, strong presence inside. The way we’re playing, we need help inside with rebounding and defense. That’s the key for us.”