The Los Angeles Lakers have been sending mixed signals regarding Russell Westbrook for months now. One second, it’s imminent that he’ll be traded. The next second, the team is planning for him to be on the roster this season. While the Lakers do appear to be willing to keep him on the team, they will trade him if the right offer is made.
Until that happens, the team is going to do what it can to make it seems like he’s part of this season’s plans. New head coach Darvin Ham has been complementary of the former MVP since taking the job. He’s even said that he’s prepared to coach him this season. In a recent interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Ham doubled down on his praise of Westbrook when asked about his thoughts of the guard:
Counted out prematurely. Counted out. Prematurely. I’ve had some great interactions with Russ, in person, over dinner, over the phone, over text messages. I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach. Just to see him, a guy of that magnitude and everything he’s done in the league to get hated on. But being me, I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy. We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it.
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Ham Says Westbrook Will Be a Starter
Ham’s comments certainly sound like he expects Westbrook not to get traded. Obviously, that isn’t entirely up to him but the Lakers have given him more power than former head coach Frank Vogel. If Westbrook does stay, many would like to see him come off the bench. He’s not a fit on the court with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, Ham doesn’t see it that way.
Spears asked the coach if he sees Westbrook as a start.
“Yes, indeed. It’s just the way we’re going to play and the type of people that’s going to be out there on the floor, that’s the biggest thing,” Ham said.
How Honest Is Ham Being?
Ham has never been a head coach in the NBA so it’s difficult to know for sure how honest he’s being. He could be saying all the right things to try and help give the Lakers leverage in trade talks. He could also just be confident in his ability to get the best out of Westbrook.
Ham doesn’t know if the team will be able to trade Westbrook for Kyrie Irving or another player. It hasn’t been easy trying to find a suitor. There’s still a strong chance the guard stays put. If that happens, Ham has to play with the cards he’s been dealt. Perhaps he get can get through to Westbrook and figure out how to make him a better fit on this roster. It won’t be easy but that’s why he was hired to coach the most popular franchise in the sport.