Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has come to the defence of Russell Westbrook as he believes the former NBA MVP has been "counted out prematurely." Last summer, the Lakers went all in to acquire Westrook and paid him with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Lakers had championship aspirations but their season was a complete disaster as they finished with a 33-49 record and didn't even make the playoffs. Westbrook didn't really get along well with head coach Frank Vogel but the Lakers now have a new coach and he and Westbrook seem to be off to a good start.
Ham believes Westbrook is still a quality player and someone who will flourish in his system. “Counted out prematurely,” he told Andscape’s Marc J. Spears regarding Westbrook. “Counted out. Prematurely.
I’ve had some great interactions with Russ, in person, over dinner, over the phone, over text messages. I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach. Just to see him, a guy of that magnitude and everything he’s done in the league to get hated on.
But being me, I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy.
We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it”.
Ham: I expect Westbrook to be on the Lakers for the 2022/23 season
The Lakers are reported as the team with the most interest in acquiring Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving.
When Ham was asked directly if he sees Westbrook as a starter, he said yes. “Yes, indeed,” Ham said when asked if he sees Westbrook as a starter. “It’s just the way we’re going to play and the type of people that’s going to be out there on the floor, that’s the biggest thing”.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Brian Windhorst is reporting that the Lakers are the only team bidding to acquire Irving. If the Lakers do acquire Irving, that would mean the end of the Westbrook era in Los Angeles. “We have heard more in the last week about teams that have no interest in Kyrie than we have about teams that do have interest,” he said.
“There was some reports that maybe Philly, maybe Dallas, and those teams very quickly pushed back on it. ‘No, no, no, no. We don’t want him,'" Windhorst said, per Nets Daily. Also, Windhorst suggested that there is not much interest in Irving around the NBA and that's why the Lakers haven't been sending really aggressive offers for Irving so far.