Things didn’t work out as planned between the Los Angeles Lakers and Russell Westbrook.
Although both sides had the best intentions when they came together a few seasons ago, Westbrook never quite fit in the Lakers’ rotation and eventually left the team for their rivals, the Clippers.
But there are no hard feelings from Lakers head coach Darvin Ham about Westbrook.
Speaking on the “#thisleague UNCUT” podcast, Ham opened up about the work he did with Westbrook – and the work Westbrook did for the team.
According to Heavy.com, Ham said:
“[Westbrook] takes a lot of blame, and everybody seems to want to talk stuff about him…but some of the stuff he has to endure, and he’s still a very, very highly capable basketball player. I appreciate him for just giving it a chance and complying with what I wanted to do and just taking a bullet for the team.”
Ham is right: there was a lot of “stuff” talked about Westbrook during his time with the Lakers.
He is also right that Westbrook is still a very capable player, even if things didn’t work out with Ham and his team.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham joins the #thisleague UNCUT podcast LIVE from the NBA Summer League and talks about the Lakers being accused of “flopping” during their series against the Warriors with @ChrisBHaynes and @TheSteinLine.
FULL EPISODE: pic.twitter.com/QT5i2Hxecn
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) July 12, 2023
When it comes to “taking a bullet” for the Lakers, Ham is likely referring to when he asked Westbrook to become a bench player instead of a starter.
For his first season in LA, Westbrook started in every game – and things weren’t really working out.
At the start of his second season, Ham changed things up and made Westbrook a bench player and leader of the team’s second unit.
That certainly did help Westbrook find more of himself and his output increased.
In the end, it still wasn’t enough and the writing was on the wall: Westbrook had to go.
He has found success – as a starter, no less – for the Clippers and seems happy there.
As for Ham, his team experienced a major turnaround in the second half of last season and made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
So this ultimately worked out well for everyone.
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