The two biggest question marks facing the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason were who they will hire to replace Frank Vogel as head coach and what will they do with Russell Westbrook.
The Lakers appeared to answer one of those this week, reportedly hiring Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham to be their next head coach.
Ham was the favorite all along and now the long-time assistant who has previously coached in the Lakers organization gets the chance to be a head coach for the first time.
While the Lakers still have to put together the rest of their coaching staff, the focus will begin to shift towards the roster with the draft and free agency just around the corner.
How the Lakers will shape their roster will depend on whether or not they will be able to trade Westbrook. The 33-year-old is expected to pick up his $47 million player option and while that is an expiring contract, teams aren’t expected to do the Lakers any favors in trade talks.
With that being the case, things are trending towards the Lakers actually keeping Westbrook and that continues with Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reporting that how the point guard will be utilized what a big topic of conversation in head coaching interviews:
Ham will be charged with returning the Lakers to the postseason after a disastrous 33-49 season that cost Frank Vogel his job. One of Ham’s most important directives: finding a way to incorporate future Hall of Fame guard Russell Westbrook into the franchise’s framework with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It was a significant subject of every Lakers coaching interview in the process, sources said.
Trading Westbrook is still the best option for the Lakers, but reports have indicated they are unwilling to include future draft assets to get off his contract, which could make it difficult to find a deal of their liking.
The Lakers also reportedly have no plans of waiving Westbrook or sending him home if they don’t trade him, so Ham may be tasked with figuring out how to make him work on a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Injuries limited that trio’s minutes together in 2021-22, so perhaps L.A. is hoping that a new voice in the locker room plus better health could make Westbrook work in the final year of his contract.
Jeanie Buss believes it’s ‘premature’ to comment on Westbrook’s future
With free agency still being a month away, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss believes it’s still premature to comment on Westbrook’s potential future with the organization.
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