After waiting a suspiciously long time without saying anything, the Los Angeles Lakers finally announced the hiring of Darvin Ham as head coach. There was no reason to believe that the deal between the two sides fell through but the Lakers waited a whole week to announce the news after reports dropped.
Now that Ham is officially the man in charge, the team can turn their focus on what to do with Russell Westbrook. When the season ended, it was unfathomable that he would be brought back for a second year. However, it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll get another chance to play in Los Angeles.
Westbrook hasn’t touched much on the Lakers this offseason but did respond to the news of Ham’s hiring on his Instagram.
The guard didn’t make a comment on the hiring but the fact that he would repost it is essentially an endorsement. This will only add to the idea that Westbrook is set to be a Laker heading into next season.
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Is Westbrook Staying in Los Angeles?
If Westbrook had put out a stronger reaction to Ham’s hiring, it would seem inevitable that he’ll be a Laker next season. However, it was a pretty tepid response from the guard. The fact that he responded to the hiring is noteworthy but it might not mean much.
As a former player, Ham is the type of coach who can possibly get through to Westbrook in a way that Frank Vogel never could. That likely played a reason why the Lakers decided to hire him. According to NBA insider Marc Stein, signs are suggesting that Westbrook isn’t going anywhere:
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. 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.
Can Lakers Possibly Win With Westbrook?
The Lakers’ decision to trade for Westbrook last offseason could go down as one of the worst in NBA history. By adding one player, the team went from title contenders to not even sniffing the playoffs. To say he’s a bad fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis is a gross understatement. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they are on the hook for his $47 million contract next season and it’s not a contract other teams around the league will want.
Unless the team is willing to give up valuable assets, Westbrook isn’t going anywhere. As of right now, it sounds like the Lakers won’t entertain trading away picks to get off Westbrook. That said, things could obviously change if the right deal is presented. Dealing with Westbrook for one more season and then making another title push the following year isn’t ideal but might be the only play Los Angeles has right now.