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April 28, 2018

Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Q. What are some of the biggest steps in terms of progress that you feel like this team can make heading into the next season if you guys all stay together as a unit?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Oh, I mean, I think we have a great group of guys that want to be successful. Want to win, want to do the right things. I think the biggest thing for us is just being more and more consistent throughout the season, and figuring out what works and what doesn't. I think that's the biggest thing for us.

Q. How much did not having Andre at the end of the season hurt?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Well, I mean, I've always been very, very big on Andre. He's one of my favorite players, just because the things he brings to the game. I know a lot of people across the world, even you guys doubted Andre many, many times about his shooting and all that stuff. But to me, man, the type of guy he is, the things he brings to the game is a huge, huge impact on our team and what he brings to the table. I never take anything he does for granted because of the way he lays it out on the line.

Q. Talk about playing with Melo and PG, and just over the course of the season, what you learned from them?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: We obviously had previous relations before the season. But to get through the season and figure out what real brotherhood is like. Those guys are somebody that I can always look up to, different things they brought to the game. Not just on the court, but off the court, I think us bonding as brothers was a bigger thing for me.

That's always the most important thing for me is making sure that basketball is a short stint in your life, but friendships and things like that go longer than that. That was always important for me to make sure we bonded and understood where we come from and know a little about each one of us personally. That was the most important thing.

Q. How big a role will you play in trying to get those guys to return to Oklahoma City?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: My job is to make sure those guys are comfortable in doing what's right for them and their families. It's not up to me to make a decision on what they do. My job is to make it easy for them, whether they're here or they're not. Just making sure -- basketball is a short stint of our lives, but maybe for their relationships to stay, that's most important.

Q. Very few teams turnover rosters as much as you guys have in the last two years. Would you like to have consistency to see where you can go with this bunch?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I mean, obviously. We have a great team. Obviously, getting everybody back to be ideal and be the number one thing. Hopefully we can do that.

Q. Talking about consistency, what is the biggest hurdle to to find that consistency you talked about, Billy talked about for the next season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I mean, just getting everybody on the same page. I think obviously this year we tried to figure it out. It was new for everybody, trying to figure it out. But obviously through this year we know and figured out what things work, what doesn't, and that's something that we have to address as a team.

Q. You've always been such a student of your game and what you need to do to make the others around you better. What will this off-season be about for you in terms of what you want to improve on?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Just always for me, always like to put my game into perspective and try to figure out what I can do to be better. I say everything all the time because that's truly what I mean, and that's what I have to do because I believe that I'm able to do that.

I put pressure on myself every summer to make sure I come back better at something, whether it's leadership -- whatever it is, just be better and keep expanding and each year getting better and better.

Q. You mentioned trying to figure it out. Do you feel like you guys made a good amount of progress from the beginning of the season to the end?

Q. You've been through the free agency process with Kevin who is a close friend of yours. Now you've bonded with ball and you're about to go through that free agency process with him. But does it feel different between those two processes?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Number one, I didn't go through the free agent process the first time. Number two, two different relationships. You know, and I think two different -- totally two different things. Obviously, Kevin was here for many years and then decided to leave, and Paul's only been here for some months. That's a decision that Paul will eventually make.

But like I said before, our friendship and our bond we've created together is more important to me, and that's what I truly care about. Me knowing Paul, like I said before, he definitely wants to be here. Through free agency or for any player, it's always a decision up to them what's best for their family.

Q. If there was one thing you could change for the season, what would it be?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Not losing yesterday.

Q. Carmelo has talked a little bit throughout the season about helping you grow as a leader. What was it like sharing a locker room with him this past season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It was great, man. He brings some of the mellow side of me out. Just trying to keep it cool and making sure that I keep focus on what's the thing that's important for our team and me being a leader. So he was a huge part of that. I learned a lot of different things from him off the floor as well.

Q. Is this summer going to be good for you in terms of just getting a break?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, I don't like breaks. I like to play. I like to play. Breaks, you can break another time. I had a break last summer, now I've got another one. I'd rather not have breaks.

Q. So how difficult is it for you in the off-season when you end this early? How restless do you get during this time?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I don't mind resting. Resting is great for me, but I'd rather not rest this long.

Q. How was the first year being a dad?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: The best thing of my life. Obviously it's tough for me because I had my son, you get all summer and then I got used to that. Then when the season comes, I've got all this traveling and going back and forth playing and missing some times. But obviously now I'll get a chance to make up some time, but it's definitely something that I cherish and enjoy more than anything.

Q. The last play when Paul looked like he probably got fouled, did anybody have any communication? Did they say there was no contact?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, I didn't talk to them. I haven't talked to them.

Q. Paul might not have had the game he wanted to have in his last game with five points. Melo didn't play as much as he had been during the season. What was the conversation like with them after Game 6?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: We didn't talk about the game. We put ourselves in position to win a game, and that's it.

Q. What do you remember about meeting Steven when he came here as a 19-year-old, and how your relationship with him as grown and developed through that time?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: He was raw, man. He was, obviously, really young and trying to figure it out. Now being able to see him grow, he's gotten it figured out and knows what works for him. Just to see that evolvement of him is great. I'm just happy to be here to assist him in any way I could.

Q. How much more room does he have to grow as a player?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I don't know, man. I think he constantly comes back better and better. For him, it's just constantly just figuring out what works. I think he's probably one of the most feared big men in the league, across the league, because of his size, his presence, the way he looks. He can be fearless for other people.

Q. What is your relationship like a few years in now with Billy?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It's great, man. Billy did an amazing job. My relationship with him has gotten better and better. We constantly talk and talk about the game, communicate by being good on the floor and making sure we're on the same page.

But he's done a good job of just playing the cards that he's been dealt, and making sure that we have a chance to win and giving us the sets and the defensive schemes to make sure that we go out there to succeed.

Q. Can you talk about the progression you've seen from Jerami?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I'm very, very proud of Jerami, man. My relationship with him as grown since last year. Constantly staying on him about his aggressiveness, using his size and length. This year, man, he did a great job of coming back better, using his body, his size. He was a huge, huge part to our team. And I'm always able to accomplish this year.

Q. You've worked out with teammates in the summer in the past. Are you going to try to basically lock Paul George in the gym with you over the summer?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: We'll definitely workout. Try to get some work in. I'm always trying to make sure that I'm creating good chemistry with the guys that we have here, and making sure that we're in the gym, whether it's PG, Melo, Jerami, whoever it is, Steven, to make sure that we can get a head start on different things coming into next season.

Q. Have you have you had any contact with the league in regard to last night when you were coming off the court?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: No, I said my peace last night, and I meant everything I said.

Q. How big is it playing with the USA Basketball team getting ready for next season, the mini camp?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I mean, it's good. To be able to get guys together and give them an opportunity to be able to get together for a summer and get a mini camp in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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