Following Trade To Jazz, Darvin Ham Praises Russell Westbrook For ‘Unbelievable Sacrifice’ He Made With Lakers
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers made a number of moves at this year’s trade deadline, but without a doubt the biggest was the deal sending Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz in a three-team trade that brought back D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley. Head coach Darvin Ham had done well in getting Westbrook to thrive in a role off the bench, but the Lakers ultimately chose to turn him into multiple role players who could help fill voids.

Ham has been one of the most vocal supporters of Westbrook since being hired this past offseason and constantly spoke to the positives Westbrook brought to the Lakers. There was reportedly a verbal altercation between the two during their final game together, but all seemed to be fine afterward.

When asked about Westbrook following the trade and why it was time for the Lakers to part ways with the guard, Ham instead chose to praise him once again.

“I’ll put it like this, Russ made an unbelievable sacrifice and complied with my strategy of bringing him off the bench,” Ham said prior to the Lakers’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks. “And as I said before, it wasn’t a demotion, it was a realignment and I thought it would bring more balance to us as a team and we tried to do that every day. And we came out and played well. And like any other player, there were good moments and not-so-good moments in terms of getting stuff done on the floor.

“But make no mistake about it, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as an individual and everything he’s accomplished in this league. I’ll just leave it there, everything else is pretty much irrelevant at this point.”

There can sometimes be some unsavory things said after players and teams part ways, but Ham chose not to go down that route in this instance. As he said, Westbrook did embrace that role which was a sacrifice and there were good and bad moments.

But Ham is right in that any sort of reasons for the trade are irrelevant at this point as the deal is done and it is best to focus on the players who are in purple and gold now.

Darvin Ham discusses Lakers’ trade deadline acquisitions

In addition to Russell, Beasley and Vanderbilt, the Lakers also added guard Davon Reed from the Denver Nuggets and big man Mo Bamba from the Orlando Magic. And Darvin Ham is happy with the acquisitions the franchise made.

“I just think we added some pieces that are young and still on the uptick.” Ham said. “They’ve proven themselves to be really effective NBA players and also fit the needs that we have in terms of creating more spacing for LeBron and AD while also bringing in some guys that can make a huge impact on the defensive end with rim protection. It was great.”

These players definitely give Ham some new possibilities with his rotation and lineups and he is excited to get everyone in the building as he believes they add what the Lakers need.

“I think it gives us a chance to shuffle some pieces around. All of those guys bring unique skillsets. Skillsets that we need like shooting, playmaking, energy, defense, rebounding. A lot of needs they’ll be able to address along with the guys that are still remaining. My staff and I will sit down and go through the new roster and see what makes sense.”

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