Darvin Ham 'Excited as Hell' to Have Russell Westbrook on Lakers Amid Trade Rumors

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

New Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham is doubling down on his positive comments regarding Russell Westbrook.

Ham appeared on the broadcast of the Lakers' summer league game against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday and expressed excitement about how Westbrook will fit in his system.

"Russ, in my opinion, he's in great shape, he's durable," Ham said. "In this system, this four-out-one-in system, he's gonna have a chance to screen and roll and make plays in the half roll. He's gonna have a chance to run on the break, slash, get layups. He's gonna have a chance to sprint out to the corner, flatten the defense, get corner threes, as well as the things he already does well in terms of getting the ball and pushing the pace and pushing the tempo. I'm excited as hell to have Russell Westbrook on our team."

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Darvin Ham: “I’m excited as hell to have Russell Westbrook on our team.” <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/NBATV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBATV</a>)<a href="https://t.co/0Vdjec9OBk">pic.twitter.com/0Vdjec9OBk</a>

As for whether Westbrook will actually be on the Lakers roster next season, that remains to be seen. Variations of a Westbrook-for-Kyrie Irving trade remain the most popular rumor surrounding the Nets star, who has likely played his final game in Brooklyn. To this point, the Lakers are seemingly the only team with significant interest in trading for Irving, and Westbrook would have to be involved for salary purposes.

While Irving remains perhaps the NBA's most confounding star from a personality standpoint, there's little question he'd be an on-court upgrade over Westbrook. His ability to be a knockdown shooter from three-point range and his capability to play off the ball makes him a far more seamless fit than Westbrook, who struggled to find a rhythm throughout last season.

The Lakers have spent the summer pushing back on the narrative that Westbrook doesn't mesh with their roster. That said, publicly praising a player is a much better way to increase his value than to trash him. If the Lakers want to make Westbrook look good for a trade partner, they first have to look willing to keep him.

The Irving saga is unlikely to settle until Brooklyn finds a Kevin Durant trade, and there has been little traction on getting that deal done. If Irving winds up making the move to Los Angeles, don't be surprised if we're waiting into August before something happens.

As for Westbrook, his future will be determined by Irving's. If the Nets look elsewhere for a Kyrie trade, then Westbrook will be back with the Lakers next season.


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