Darvin Ham says he had a conversation with Russell Westbrook after his head-scratching comments about coming off the bench

Jonathan Sherman
3 Min Read

Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, former MVP Russell Westbrook essentially blamed coming off the bench in a preseason game for a hamstring injury he suffered.

“I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight,” Westbrook said following the Lakers’ loss to the Warriors. “Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose. … That’s something I just wasn’t accustomed to.”

Now, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has made it clear that he has spoken to Westbrook about those very words.

What is not clear from Ham’s update on the matter is whether or not he will actually end up putting Westbrook in a reserve role at some point in the future. In Tuesday night’s matchup, Lakers fans were reminded about the issues that Westbrook being in the starting lineup creates.

Most notably, the fact that Westbrook can only play his best basketball with the ball in his hands is a major issue considering he is teammates with LeBron James, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest playmakers of all time.

Westbrook’s inability to produce at a high level while playing off of the ball has impacted the Lakers from a shooting and spacing perspective.

Though both Westbrook and James had solid statistical nights versus the Warriors, scoring 19 and 31 points, respectively, the offense seemed stunted and uninspired at many points throughout the game.

James discussed the team’s lack of shooting after the game.

Though the lack of shooting is a somewhat unrelated issue, putting Westbrook in a bench role could help improve several things up for the Lakers. First off, replacing him with a player who is more efficient shooting the ball could definitely open things up for the starting lineup.

Beyond that, putting Westbrook in full command of the reserve lineup could allow him to flourish. He wouldn’t have to compete with James when it comes who brings the ball up the court. Also, he’d be facing off against other backups who would likely lack the defensive strength to deal with his abilities.

Though that could certainly work for the Lakers, it’s hard to imagine Westbrook accepting such a role and being happy about it.

Just one game into the season, and the many issues that the Lakers faced last year are already in full view. Only time will tell if Ham and the rest of the team’s coaching staff finds a way to overcome them.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.