The Lakers fired Frank Vogel on April 11 after going 33-49 in 2021-22. Since Ham won a championship as a player with the Detroit Pistons and as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, many pundits believe the Lakers will be better in 2022-23.
However, 11-time All-Star and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley doesn’t think so.
“Well, I’m glad Darvin got an opportunity cuz he’s paid his dues,” Barkley told Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show. “He’s a nice guy. We’ll have to see what kind of coach he is, but listen, if one of your coaches is close to the same age as your players, your team not gonna be any good anyway. I mean the Lakers, they got a serious dilemma on their hands. I mean, their best player is gonna be 40. You know, Anthony Davis has never been healthy. You know, obviously, Russ is gonna be there one more year.
“So what’s really bad about the situation, next year is gonna be the same as this year and then LeBron just gonna be a year older and then they’ll have Russ off the books, but LeBron’s gonna be a year older and Anthony, you know, I said last year coming into the season I’m not worried about LeBron or anybody else. If the Lakers is gonna be any good, it’s gonna have to be Anthony Davis. I said if he’s one of the top five players in the NBA, the Lakers can compete cuz you can’t be asking a 38-year-old guy to be your best player.”
James will turn 38 in December 2022. He averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 2021-22. However, the King played in only 56 games due to injuries and one suspension.
Anthony Davis played in just 40 games in 2021-22. He averaged 23.2 points and 9.9 rebounds. The Brow has appeared in only 76 regular-season games since the Lakers won the 2020 title over the Miami Heat.
Russell Westbrook started 78 games for the Lakers in 2021-22. The one-time MVP averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists and finished with a plus-minus of -211. Westbrook was second in the NBA in turnovers and his effective field goal percentage of 47.6% was sixth-worst in the league.
Ham Will Likely Coach Westbrook
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Ham was asked how he planned to use Westbrook in his system during his interview with the Lakers. Westbrook has a player option worth $47,063,478 for next season and he’s expected to pick it up.
“Ham will be charged with returning the Lakers to the postseason after a disastrous 33-49 season that cost Frank Vogel his job. One of Ham’s most important directives: finding a way to incorporate future Hall of Fame guard Russell Westbrook into the franchise’s framework with LeBron James and Anthony Davis,” Wojnarowski reported. “It was a significant subject of every Lakers coaching interview in the process, sources said.”
So many analysts urged the Lakers to trade Westbrook this summer since his lack of shooting skills and propensity to turn the ball over make him a poor fit next to James and Davis. However, Los Angeles’ front office apparently doesn’t want to dangle its future assets.
Lakers Don’t Want to Part Ways with Draft Picks in Westbrook Trade
According to Marc Stein of Substack, teams are asking the Lakers to give up additional assets to trade Westbrook and the purple and gold have no interest in doing that.
“The Lakers are tuning out the skeptics yet again and insisting to anyone who will listen that they would rather keep Russell Westbrook on the roster for next season than surrender additional assets to convince someone to trade for him,” Stein reported. “The Lakers are also said to be adamant that they won’t release the former MVP and eat his $47.1 million player option for next season after Westbrook picks it up.”
Ham played with Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace and coached Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s been around stars before, so he may be able to connect with James, Davis and Westbrook.