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September 24, 2018

Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Q. Can you take us through the process of your relationship with Paul and how you guys connected and when you think it really -- you could see that, hey, this guy is going to be a long timer for us?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: You know, me and Paul had a relationship before, being both LA natives, having a little relationship back then, and throughout the season, man, and before the season, just creating a relationship, knowing a little bit more about him, his family, his goals, what he wants to do, and it just clicked from there. We continued our relationship. We continued to stay in contact, obviously, and made it work.

Q. I'm curious, with your son and with the twins coming, do you feel like your game matures in kind of a special way like maybe that correlates with fatherhood or your responsibility as a dad? Does that impact you at all as you play?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It definitely can. I think it does, actually. I think it does. You'll see why it does.

Q. Sam Presti said at his press conference that with Nick Collison leaving the Thunder, he was looking forward to that being an opportunity for you to kind of take that next step and evolve in your leadership with the team. What goes into that process and being a leader on the team and not necessarily just on the floor?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I mean, every year since I've been here, I've tried to evolve my leadership. I think that's something that I take very, very personal, and I think it's very, very important. You know, from the outside looking in, you can't really tell what leadership is unless you know what goes on from a day-to-day basis, and for me, I take that upon myself to be able to create relationships with different guys. Obviously now with new guys on our team, it's important, different things, how we do it around here. Definitely this year is going to be big in that aspect for me is just continue to do what I've been doing.

Q. I know you haven't had a ton of time with Dennis yet, but what are your initial thoughts on Dennis and how you guys will mesh on and off the court?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I think we'll be fine. Obviously Dennis is a great player, done a lot of great things in Atlanta, plays fast, plays with pace, good with the basketball, and I think it's going to open up a lot of different things for him and myself when we're on the floor together, so looking forward to it.

Q. How was the trip to China?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It was great. One of my favorites, honestly. Had an opportunity to be able to travel. It's a blessing for me. But to go to China to be able to see all my fans and people there that care so much about what I'm doing over here, it's overwhelming for me at times, but I'm definitely truly thankful and had a great time.

Q. What's the thing that impressed you the most?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: The people, just the people, how nice and understanding they are about just me and just loving everything I do about myself, my family. That's the most important part.

Q. How critical is Andre's recovery to what you guys hope to do this season?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I think it's important. But there's no rush, man. Dre, once he gets back, he'll be back and ready to go. It's the start of a new year for us, and we have a lot of different guys at different positions that has to be ready to step up and make things happen, but once Dre comes back, we pick him up right where he left off.

Q. Last year you got Carmelo a couple days before camp. You have more time this year with Dennis and being able to spend more time with him in the off-season. What is the difference between when you have a little bit more time with a guy on and off the court?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: What do you mean?

Q. Whereas you get Dennis in a trade earlier than you would have with Carmelo; does that help? Is there a benefit there to having him in and around the guys a little bit earlier?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: It's just not about Dennis. I think we traded for a few other guys, as well. That's important that we had them all summer, Nerlens, Nader, Timmy, we have a lot of different guys that are new and that are here and trying to make an impact for our team, and I think it's important to create relationships with those guys, create a bond, have an opportunity to see how their game has evolved and put it all together and make one team.

Q. Do you have a timetable for your return on the court?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: What did you read?

Q. Press release.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: What did it say?

Q. Four weeks.

Q. You're sticking to that?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Yeah, I'm sticking to whatever comes out.

Q. When Carmelo was traded he wrote a letter to you addressing you, the fans, the organization. What did you feel about his time here, and did you learn anything from having Carmelo here with you?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I mean, me and Melo are great friends, besides what happened last year. I've been knowing Melo for a while, so our relationship and different things has really nothing to do with last year. Obviously him being here I think for me was a great experience. I learned a lot about him as a person not just on the basketball court but learned a lot of different things about him off the floor, learned some things from him, as well, just how to approach the game because he's obviously a superstar and understands how to play the game at a high level, and I'm pretty sure he's going to do great things in Houston, and I wish him nothing but the best because he's a great friend of mine.

Q. You were talking about the leadership question a few minutes ago. In the NBA recruitment has become a thing for players, particularly stars of a franchise. Have you seen your role change over the years in terms of how you have to interact with potential free agents or keeping guys around, or have you done anything different?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Nope. I've always done the same thing I've always been doing. For me, I'm a real person. I'm real. I keep it 100, straightforward. I don't go out and be someone I'm not just to get somebody to stay because that's considered being fake, and for me, I be myself at all times as you guys know, and it's important to do that, and that's part of being a leader, part of being a leader of this team, an organization, and that's what I do.

Q. There was a lot of stuff that went on this summer, players moving, Kawhi, DeMar, that kind of thing. Social media was out of whack. Do you guys as players talk about that and see that happening?
RUSSELL WESTBROOK: I mean, you obviously see it, but talk about it, it doesn't have nothing to do with our team. I don't really talk about it much. But you obviously see it. Every summer it's going to be like that because it's free agency, once free agency hits there's a lot of different moves that need to be made and a lot of trades, so things happen. That's a part of the world we live in now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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