Lakers News: Darvin Ham Expects Russell Westbrook To Be In 2022-23 Starting Lineup
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Even though a bulk of the Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason work is done, there is still a huge question mark surrounding the future of Russell Westbrook in the organization.

It’s no secret that Westbrook’s first season with the Lakers didn’t go as planned, but he still decided to pick up his $47 million player option so is under contract for one more year.

Most reports have indicated that the Lakers would like to trade Westbrook, but that is no easy task given his decreasing skills on the court and enormous salary.

The Lakers have been in discussions with the Brooklyn Nets on a trade surrounding Westbrook and Kyrie Irving, but if that is not able to get done then L.A. may need to go into the season with the former on the roster.

One person who has been in Westbrook’s corner all offseason is new Lakers head coach Darvin Ham as he has already said that the point guard is willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the team, including taking the challenge to be an elite defender.

In an interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Ham discussed his thoughts on Westbrook further and why he feels he can get the best out of him:

“Counted out prematurely. Counted out. Prematurely. I’ve had some great interactions with Russ, in person, over dinner, over the phone, over text messages. I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach. Just to see him, a guy of that magnitude and everything he’s done in the league to get hated on. But being me, I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy. We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it.”

Ham also went on to reveal that he plans to start Westbrook at point guard this season:

“Yes, indeed. It’s just the way we’re going to play and the type of people that’s going to be out there on the floor, that’s the biggest thing.”

Westbrook starting can obviously change if he is traded at some point this offseason, but it makes sense for Ham to openly support him in case there is no deal.

With Westbrook on the roster, the Lakers’ championship hopes are slim, but Ham seems to be at least getting through to the veteran about what it will take to play winning basketball.

Spurs could be third team in Westbrook-Irving deal

Considering the Nets don’t seem to have a lot of interest in bringing in Westbrook, the Lakers may need to find a third team to help facilitate an Irving trade.

One potential team that’s emerging is the San Antonio Spurs since they still have some leftover cap space and are entering a rebuilding phase after trading away Dejounte Murray for draft picks. The Spurs usually would not want to help out the Lakers, but if they are enticed with future draft compensation, then perhaps they would take on Westbrook’s expiring contract to help complete a trade that brings Irving to L.A.

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