Lakers News: D’Angelo Russell & Darvin Ham Improved Relationship Through Back-And-Forth Dialogue
Darvin Ham, D'Angelo Russell, Lakers
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell’s second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers has had its ups and downs. There have been a couple times in which Russell was moved to a reserve role and his relationship with head coach Darvin Ham has not always been a great one.

The two have worked to improve that, however, and the result has been Russell enjoying an outstanding year and becoming one of the Lakers’ most important players. A turning point to the relationship between Russell and Ham took place earlier this season as the two clashed during a film session, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

A film session in early January, following a 110-96 loss to the short-handed Miami Heat, led to Ham and Russell clashing. The coach wanted to see better effort and execution; the player wanted to see sharper schemes. Ham was headstrong in his instructions, illustrating through the film where his team would “half-ass it through possessions,” he said.

Russell dismissed the lack of execution, focusing rather on an alternative approach he believed would be better for the team.

A player and coach going back and forth during film session is not a bad thing as long as it doesn’t cross a line of disrespect. In this case, Russell was able to speak up on what he felt needed to be done and it eventually opened up that line of communication between the two, and the ability to have that dialogue is what’s most important in Ham’s eyes:

“There’s times we agree to agree, agree to disagree or come to an understanding,” Ham said of his relationship with Russell, acknowledging his responsibility to improve their discourse after last season’s finish.

“But it’s not so much the dialogue as it is the access to have it. And I can’t stress that enough. I can go to him and let him know how I feel and meet him halfway, or tell him I need him to come more over to my way, or [it can be] him telling me how I need to trust him more and come more over to his way. And it’s a workable relationship.”

And Russell concurs with that, noting that he and Ham have gone back and forth and ultimately developed that relationship and necessary level of communication:

Russell invites the back-and-forth. “We played tennis with that,” he said. “I hit the ball back, he hit it to me. … That’s the season. That’s what you use 82 games to develop, and we developed it.”

These are the kinds of things that can make all the difference to a player and their ability to thrive and succeed in a situation that the outside rarely sees. Russell and Ham have been able to get on the same page and the result has been one of the best season’s of Russell’s career and becoming an absolutely vital piece to this Lakers team.

Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell on Dennis Schroder preventing relationship with Darvin Ham last year

D’Angelo Russell of course was traded back to the Lakers at the trade deadline last season, but he and Darvin Ham were unable to develop much of a relationship. In Russell’s eyes that was due in large part to the existing relationship Ham had with backup point guard Dennis Schroder.

Ham and Schroder had a relationship dating back years from their time with the Atlanta Hawks and Russell knew that and felt he was unable to go to the Lakers coach and really communicate his issues last year, ultimately just accepting that fate.

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