Now that the Los Angeles Lakers have a new head coach in Darvin Ham, the focus will now switch to Russell Westbrook’s future. At first, it looked like it was just a matter of time until he was traded but things might not be that simple. There’s a growing chance that the guard sticks around for another season.
Ham was finally introduced by the Lakers on June 6, and it was the first time he had a chance to talk about Westbrook and what he thinks of him. It certainly sounds like the coach believes that the guard can still be a difference-maker.
“Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen and there is still a ton left in that tank,” Ham said. “I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off.”
Westbrook was the only one of the Lakers superstars to show up to Ham’s press conference, which is certainly interesting. The coach sounds excited about the chance of coaching the guard. That likely played a role in why the Lakers decided to hire him. While Ham didn’t say anything definitively, his comments sure sound like he believes Westbrook will be on the roster next season.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Ham Talks About Conversations He’s Had With Westbrook
This season, former head coach Frank Vogel wouldn’t take Westbrook out of the starting lineup despite his struggles. He wasn’t afraid to bench him late in games but the guard continued to return to the starting lineup. Ham was asked about what his plans are for Westbrook and he believes that the former MVP will do what it takes to win.
“Russ and I have had some really, really great one-on-one convos man,” Ham said. “The biggest word that came out of those discussions were sacrifice. That was the biggest word … and it’s not just Russ”
Westbrook is the ultimate competitor and wasn’t happy when Vogel would bench him late in games. Ham is going to have to navigate the situation very carefully if he ever plans to take Westbrook out of the starting lineup. He believes that the guard can still make a difference but he’ll have to be willing to adjust if the Lakers hope to win more games next season.
LeBron James Was Absent From Presser but Ham Has Spoken to Him
Notably, LeBron James was nowhere to be seen at Ham’s introductory press conference. When Vogel was hired in 2019, the superstar was there in support. For whatever reason, he couldn’t attend Ham’s intro. However, he’s already taken to social media to state his excitement for the new coach. Ham also revealed that he’s had conversations with LeBron.
“I talked to LeBron on my first day in the gym and I wanted to start training camp the next day,” Ham said.
There’s no reason to be concerned about LeBron and Anthony Davis not showing up. There’s plenty of time for the three to get a feel for each other.