Lakers’ Feelings Toward Russell Westbrook Entering Training Camp Revealed: Report

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

Getty Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

The Los Angeles Lakers‘ feelings toward point guard Russell Westbrook entering training camp have been revealed.

According to a September 1st report from Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are “comfortable” heading into training camp with Westbrook on the roster.

“Sources say the Lakers are comfortable heading into training camp with Westbrook on their roster, hoping new coach Darvin Ham can unlock increased intensity on defense while another season with (LeBron) James and (Anthony) Davis makes life easier on offense,” Woike wrote.

The Lakers have been linked to the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers in Westbrook trade talks. They are actively exploring trade possibilities for the one-time MVP, who was second in the NBA in turnovers last season.

However, if no trade comes to fruition, new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is determined to get the best out of Westbrook, who picked up his $47.1 million player option for next season.

Ham Determined to Carve Out Real Role for Westbrook

According to an August 28th report from Marc Stein of Substack, Ham is determined to carve out a “real role” for Westbrook if the nine-time All-Star isn’t traded to the Jazz or Pacers.

“Yet I am also hearing that, if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains determined to carve out a real role for Westbrook,” Stein wrote. “Sources say that the Lakers, to date, have strongly resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him like the Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for longtime Westbrook adversary Patrick Beverley. Westbrook, who turns 34 in November, appeared in 78 of the Lakers’ 82 games last season.”

Westbrook started 78 games for the Lakers last season. He averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the free-throw line. The UCLA product had the sixth-worst effective field goal percentage, making him a poor fit next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Despite Westbrook’s struggles from last season, though, Ham has said nothing but positive things about the two-time scoring champion.

Ham Seems Excited to Coach Westbrook

Westbrook, 33, was at Ham’s introductory press conference in June. The new Lakers coach, who has won a championship as a player and assistant coach, said he was looking forward to working with the California native.

“Don’t get it messed up. Russell Westbrook is one of the best players our league has ever seen and there’s still a ton left in the tank,” Ham said. “I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off. Russ and I had some really, really great one-on-one convos, man, and the biggest word I think that came out of that, those discussions, was sacrifice. I’m going to expect him to be the same tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been all his entire career. A lot of that now may have him without the ball in his hand. Most of it now may have it on the defensive end. But again, we have to sacrifice. There’s no achieving anything without all parties sharing the load, sacrificing, instead of one-on-one.”

On July 18th, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Westbrook, James and Davis spoke on the phone, with each player expressing their commitment to one another. The Lakers went only 33-49 last season and didn’t qualify for the play-in tournament.

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