Lakers Notes: Russell Westbrook, Darvin Ham, LeBron James, Free Agents

If the Lakers end up keeping Russell Westbrook, which they are clearly hoping to avoid, new coach Darvin Ham will have full authority to send Westbrook to the bench as he sees fit.Russell Westbrook

This isn’t to say that is Ham’s intent. Rather, it just goes to show that Ham was given control of managing the roster — a sometimes iffy proposition in the coaching world, particularly as it related to LA.

Per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, “Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook down the stretch of games, according to league sources. (Former head coach Frank Vogel did so a few times last season). That could eventually extend to removing Westbrook from the starting lineup as well.”

Should the Lakers be unable to trade Westbrook ahead of the season, Ham has said he intends to give the veteran point guard every chance to contribute and bounce back from being a clunky fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

And a Westbrook return is looking more and more likely. Sources told Hoops Wire that the Lakers can’t expect to move him unless they throw in each of their next two first-round picks.

Meanwhile, Ham has said all the right things.

“I’m thrilled to coach Russ. They try to dump on Russ, I’m like that was one of the things that got me excited about this job,” Ham revealed in an interview with Showtime, via Anthony Gharib of Lakers Nation. “He and I have had a great great rapport since I’ve taken over the job man. Just text messages, phone calls, dinners. I locked in, I cornered his ass outside the elevator over at the Encore.”

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