Being a Los Angeles Laker comes with its highs and lows, but when you’re a high-profile player who doesn’t live up to those standards and expectations of a Laker you’re going to experience a lot of lows. That is the story for point guard Russell Westbrook, but thankfully new head coach Darvin Ham has come to his defense and is sticking with Brodie.
Darvin Ham’s first coaching gig is already off to a rugged start in Los Angeles, but it’s not his fault. He’s inherited an undesirable situation by coaching the Lakers, and the first challenge he has to take on is handling damage control and the fallout from last season’s disaster.
One of the main issues he has to tackle early on is the ongoing Russell Westbrook saga, which spawns a new problem every week. In between trade rumors and talks of him being displeased with the Lakers and asking for a change of scenery or a buyout, Russ parted ways with his longtime agent Thad Foucher.
We can only speculate what the next move is for him after that shocking divorce between the two. Does he find his way to GOAT agent Rich Paul like so many other players have done? Does he go towards other big-name agencies like Roc Nation with Jay-Z, or find his way to an up-and-coming sports agency like Kanye West’s Donda Sports? We don’t know.
But one thing we can all agree on, is that Westbrook will be a Laker for the upcoming season, thanks in part to a talk with his co-stars Lebron James and Anthony Davis, and much needed backing and vocal support from Ham.
Amid a bunch of rumors, and unrelenting assaults on Westbrook from the media, Ham has stood ten-toes-down solid on his point guard, assuring that he has a vital role for Westbrook, and that last season’s struggles weren’t solely his fault.
While speaking with basketball legend Vince Carter on “The VC Show”, Ham assured everyone that Russell Westbrook wasn’t the only one to blame for the Lakers abysmal season.
“We’ve all had years where we could have done better, had better performances or circumstances didn’t quite go our way. And I think just everyone knows what type of year the Lakers went through last year. And it wasn’t all Russell Westbrook’s fault. When you go back and look at the games missed by LeBron James at different segments add a different set. Those three [Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis] only got to play a total of 22 games together. You’re talking about an 82-game season.” Ham said.
“And so just the different various …i njuries with people within the lineup that we were dependent upon within the rotation. Russ having to carry a load and you’re trying to go sign, G League guys, you got COVID, people being put in the protocol because of the COVID. So for all of this to be heaped on Russ, it’s kind of unfair, in a sense and unfair reality, to be quite honest.”
There were no lies told from Ham in those statements, as this past season was as unpredictable as the 2019-2020 bubble season was, a season that saw these Lakers win a championship, a season that Ham’s Lakers will look to replicate.
But to do so they will need their best players to be healthy and efficient, and they will need their role and rotation players to be there consistently, something they lacked last year. According to Ham, this is something they’ve all spoken about, and they hammered on the importance of accountability and sacrifice in order to help the team reach their full potential.
“Russ and I have had some really, really great one-on-one conversations, and the biggest word that came out of those discussions was sacrifice. We’re gonna sacrifice whatever we have to do, and it’s not just Russ. There’s gonna be sacrifices LeBron has to make, that A.D. has to make, all the way down the line of the rest of our roster.”
The former MVP seems to have the backing and thumbs-up from Ham and his co-stars. The upcoming season could show an enormous turnaround for this star-studded Lakers team, but given how unpredictable the NBA is nowadays, anything can change. Only time will tell if these offseason maneuvers will pay off in the regular season, and hopefully the playoffs.