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.”
- A lot of the older players who finished last season with the Lakers remain free agents. Dave McMenamin of ESPN examined several of them, and speculated on their future. The list included Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard, who has been linked to the Nets.
- In case you missed it, James has a decision looming on a possible two-year contract extension. As we relayed here, the Cavs aren’t expected to try to make a run at him should he opt to enter free agency next summer.