Darvin Ham Says Russell Westbrook Was One Of The Things That Excited Him About Being Lakers Head Coach
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Due to trade rumors and moves, the Los Angeles Lakers’ hiring of Darvin Ham has seemingly gone under the radar this offseason. The first-year coach brings competitiveness and toughness on the sidelines, as well as a well-rounded vision for the Purple and Gold.

Ham though faces one of the toughest tasks in the league — finding a way to make Russell Westbrook’s fit alongside the Lakers’ Big 3 work.

The keys to the Westbrook experience weren’t very sought after, but it hasn’t stopped Ham from working closely with the All-Star. It’s no secret they’ve been in constant communication since he became the Lakers’ head coach. The two have developed a strong relationship so far.

The former MVP is reportedly enthusiastic about partnering with Ham. In his first comments as Lakers head coach, Ham stressed that Westbrook can fit on the team and emphasized making sacrifices. He’s also mentioned that he expects Westbrook to be a starter next season, even amid trade chatter.

While some may have been afraid of taking the job because of Westbrook, Ham revealed the opposite in an upcoming interview with Showtime’s All The Smoke:

“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. 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. He and I had a great conversation then. We all know what comes along with this business man. People throwing your name in trade rumors. I’ve been in the league since 96 man I don’t know anybody that’s been on any team that hasn’t had their name thrown in a trade rumor or been traded. As a coach, they’ll be saying they ready to fire me, the media be saying they ready to fire me in a year, year and a half. Well, you can’t help but hear the noise sometimes. You just got to stay solid, do what you do and you’ll win in the end every time. I witnessed it with him.”

It was reported recently that Westbrook wants to be wanted in L.A. and Ham definitely seems to want him. He spoke about his excitement to have Russ on the team, highlighting how he can fit on the Lakers.

Ham can praise Westbrook as much as he wants — there still is no guarantee the guard will play for the Purple and Gold.

Kyrie Irving’s chances of being dealt to L.A. is offering optimism for some players. It seems like we’re only days away from the move coming to fruition. However, the Lakers’ Big 3 recently committed to each other on a phone call during Summer League. The report comes after LeBron and Westbrook didn’t acknowledge each other at the Lakers game in Las Vegas.

Ham’s fondness for Westbrook is clear, but the front office may not give him a chance to stick to his word.

Jeanie Buss receiving rave reviews for hiring Ham

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is often criticized by fans for her decision-making. But she may have got it right hiring Ham as head coach. Ham was a popular candidate among league circles and Buss has been hearing about his strong reputation at meetings.

“Absolutely. I’m a big believer in Darvin Ham. When you’re at the Board of Governors meetings and governors say to you, ‘We interviewed your guy, you got a great coach.’ Or, ‘He worked for us, you got a great guy.’ His reputation around the league brings me a lot of pride to hear other people say how much they admire him. We got a really good coach.”

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