Since before the season began, the Los Angeles Lakers have been hounded with potential trade rumors. In his first chance as a head coach in the NBA, Darvin Ham has had to navigate the constant rumblings, namely about the future of point guard Russell Westbrook.
It can be extremely difficult for players and teams to thrive through these rumors as they don’t know whether they will be on the team the next day and it’s hard to focus with that on their mind. But as far as Ham is concerned, the best way to deal with it is just to be professional.
“You just have to be a pro,” Ham said prior to the Lakers’ contest against the Indiana Pacers. “At this level, the NBA, it’s a business and there’s no slight to players. I’ve seen guys not handle it so well both in my playing career and my coaching career. Hell, I was traded for Jerome ‘Pooh’ Allen, who’s coaching now. He and I were traded for each other on the day the Denver Nuggets were playing the Indiana Pacers.”
“So I get to the locker room coming off the Denver bus and get told that my stuff has been moved to the Indiana locker room [laughs]. So I’ve dealt with that myself personally but at the end of the day, you just got to have an approach to where no matter what jersey you put on, it’s a blessing to be a part of this league and you just got to handle it like a professional.”
The Lakers head coach would continue on, praising Westbrook for doing exactly that this year. “To that point, there’s gonna be rumors,” Ham added. “There’s always, even back in the day when you had to wait to read the paper or for one guy to tip on one of the major spots segments on one of the major broadcasting channels and you find out that way. But today with social media, it’s just like no one can hold their water. You just have to take it for what it is. It’s all hearsay, it’s all stuff being thrown out there.”
“But I can tell you this. Russ is a true professional. He’s shown up to work, as well as all of our players, and those guys that handle it that way actually have the most success. When you’re not wearing it on your sleeve, you’re not getting emotional about it and you’re just doing your job and doing what you need to do. But I can just say this. We’re totally thrilled with the way our current group is progressing and we’re excited about the success we’ve had here recently and we’re just trying to build on it with the guys sitting in that locker room.”
The Lakers have certainly shown signs of life in recent games and could potentially be turning the corner, but that does not mean a move isn’t incoming. There will continue to be trade rumors surrounding the team, and specifically Westbrook, until the trade deadline passes in February.
The front office will do everything in its power to improve the team, but when a move will come still remains unclear. And navigating through that will take the professionalism that Ham spoke of down the entire roster.
If traded by Lakers and bought out, Russell Westbrook expected to sign with Heat
Not only have there been rumors around Westbrook, but there’s rumors about where he would land if traded by the Lakers and bought out by the team that receives him. Recent reports suggest that the Miami Heat would be the favorite to land Westbrook should he be dealt away and bought out.
With his $47 million expiring contract, Westbrook remains the biggest potential piece the Lakers could move and a salary of that size could bring back multiple good players, but what the final outcome will ultimately be for the Lakers remains a mystery.
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