While there are a ton of trade rumors circulating regarding the Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Kyrie Irving, until a deal is finalized, Russell Westbrook is on the team’s roster for the 2022-23 season.
Any deal to acquire Irving would need to include Westbrook for salary-matching purposes, but if the Lakers aren’t able to get anything done then the possibility of running it back next season with the 2017 NBA MVP at point guard alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis is real.
With that being the case, Westbrook’s biggest supporter in recent weeks has been new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham.
Ham has already revealed that he expects Westbrook to be in the Lakers’ starting lineup, and during an appearance on the NBA TV broadcast during L.A.’s Summer League game on Sunday night, Ham spoke about his excitement to have Westbrook on the team and what the point guard will need to do to be successful, via Bleacher Report:
“In today’s game, Russ is known for his huge competitive spirit and the velocity in which he gets up and down the floor pushing the ball. The thing I said is you just have to diversify that. Not only will you lead the charge, pushing the break, but screening and rolling, defending. I have film put together of him just being a pitbull on defense in pick-and-rolls, against DHOs, chasing guys off pindown, guarding screeners, guarding in the post. And that’s where it’s gonna start, not only for Russ, but everybody. AD, Bron, we got to get back to playing defense. I think they were either first or second in defense the year they won the championship in 2020, so that’s where it starts, that’s where you make you biggest change and biggest improvement as far as from an impact standpoint. But Russ, in my opinion, he’s in great shape, he’s durable and in this system, this four-out, one-in system, he’s gonna have a chance to screen and roll and make plays in the half-roll. He’s gonna have a chance to run on the break and slash, get layups, he’s gonna have a chance to sprint out to the corner and flatten the defense with corner threes as well as the things that he already does well in terms of moving the ball and pushing the pace and pushing the tempo. So I’m excited as hell to have Russell Westbrook on our team.”
While it feels like Ham is asking Westbrook to take on a role he is not familiar with, that may be what it takes for him to work alongside James and Davis. Westbrook showed that he was unwilling to commit and make those sacrifices while Frank Vogel was head coach, so it will be interesting to see if Ham is able to get through to him in a different way.
James pushing for Lakers to acquire Irving
That’s if Westbrook is even on the team, however, as reports have indicated that James himself is pushing for the organization to acquire Irving.
James and Westbrook were both in attendance at the Lakers’ Summer League game on Friday night but sat on opposite ends of the arena and did not greet each other at all, further adding to the speculation that LeBron is ready to trade his teammate for Irving.
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