New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is not afraid of any challenge placed in front of him, and he has a big one in front of him in his first stint at the head of the table. Last season, the pairing of Russell Westbrook along with LeBron James and Anthony Davis simply did not work, and all summer long, there have been rumors about a potential trade sending the point guard out of Los Angeles.
But as of yet, a deal has yet to materialize, and Westbrook remains in purple and gold, but in no way is that phasing the Lakers head coach. Ham has done nothing but praise Westbrook since arriving in L.A. and has insisted that coaching the point guard is a big reason he wanted to take the Lakers’ job.
While there is still plenty of time before training camp kicks off, Ham is still determined to find a real role for Westbrook should he be on the roster when the season begins, and the Lakers have no plans to simply send Westbrook home, via NBA reporter Marc Stein (subscription required):
“Yet I am also hearing that, if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains determined to carve out a real role for Westbrook,” Stein wrote. “Sources say that the Lakers, to date, have strongly resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him like the Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for longtime Westbrook adversary Patrick Beverley. Westbrook, who turns 34 in November, appeared in 78 of the Lakers’ 82 games last season.”
This should come as no surprise as it is right in line with what Ham has been saying all summer long. Whether or not Westbrook embraces the role in which Ham envisions for him is up for question, but Ham has full intentions of making this work and getting the best out of Westbrook.
Discussions on a possible Westbrook trade have been ongoing all summer and are continuing on, but the Lakers have been steadfast in their desire to only do a trade if it truly improves their roster, not just to get rid of Westbrook. If they continue to exercise patience in these dealings, there is a real possibility that he could remain with the Lakers up until the trade deadline, and if that is the case, Ham will have a plan in place to get the most out of Russell Westbrook that he possibly can.
Lakers have ‘decent chance’ to be involved in Donovan Mitchell trade
One potential deal the Lakers could find themselves in the middle of is the potential Jazz trade of All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. It seems like a certainty that he will be moved, and apparently, there is a ‘decent chance’ the Lakers will be involved as a third team to help facilitate the deal.
With the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 draft picks being exactly the kind of draft capital Utah is looking for, the Lakers could use them, along with Westbrook’s expiring contract, to bring in multiple win-now veteran players in such a deal.