The new Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham praised Russell Westbrook from the moment he became the head coach. As trade rumors continue, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has made it clear he wants to play for the Lakers, and if another team trades for him, it will only be on a short-term deal.
With Coach Ham in charge, it seems Westbrook will be able to orchestrate the offense more than he did last season. That should help Westbrook return to form. Ham said in a recent interview with Marc J. Spears of Andscape:
“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.”
Ham added that Westbrook will “flourish” under his new game plan.
“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.”
New Head Coach Darvin Ham On How To Better Incorporate Russell Westbrook Into The Lakers Offense pic.twitter.com/3oNxdbu7Dq
— 𝙎𝙝𝙪𝙗𝙝 ⁶𓅓 (@OVOLakeShow) June 16, 2022
If the Lakers don’t trade Westbrook for Kyrie, they have a plan B. The plan B is to trade for one of these two sharpshooters: Eric Gordon or Buddy Hield.
Last season, former Lakers coach Frank Vogel did not utilize Westbrook the right way. Westbrook spent a lot of time playing off-ball, watching LeBron James orchestrate the offense. Westbrook spent 13 years playing point guard, and he was the one orchestrating the offensive whether he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, or Washington Wizards. So to ask him to change his play style after 13 years of being a point guard, it seemed obvious that it was not going to work.
Westbrook averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game, on 44.4 percent shooting from the field. That is seen as a “down” year for Westbrook because fans have become accustomed to his triple-double averages.
Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka will meet with the Nets General Manager Sean Marks during the Las Vegas summer league tournament. If the Lakers cannot agree to terms to trade for Irving, they will shift their focus on Hield and Gordon.
If the Lakers could trade for either of them and keep Westbrook, they would be able to make the playoffs after missing it last season. Arguably, their biggest weakness was three-point shooting, and with the addition of Hield or Gordon, that will definitely help.
If Westbrook gets a second chance with the Lakers, this time under Ham, he will play at a higher level, and help the Lakers reach the playoffs–while playing at a championship level.