After the Los Angeles Lakers dropped their second game of the 2022-23 season on Thursday night, Skip Bayless is claiming that Lakers head coach Darvin Ham seems to be afraid of guard Russell Westbrook.
Bayless made the comments on his weekday program “Undisputed” and stated that Ham continued to play Westbrook, even though the veteran was having a brutal shooting night in the Thursday night defeat.
“I was daring Darvin Ham to put him back in the game because Darvin Ham seems to be afraid of Russell Westbrook,” Bayless said. “He seems to be crumbling at Westbrook’s feet now, because he’s going to start him, and he’s going to finish him.”
In the Lakers’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Westbrook missed all 11 of his field-goal attempts on the night that included six 3-point efforts. He finished with just two points, contributing five steals, four assists and three rebounds to the Lakers’ cause.
Ham was named head coach of the Lakers back in May after a potential championship run last season disintegrated and led to the dismissal of Frank Vogel.
The chief causes of that implosion were major injuries to both Anthony Davis and LeBron James. However, Westbrook’s inability to integrate himself into the lineup was also a problem for much of the 2021-22 campaign.
Westbrook’s struggles put him on the trading block even before last season had ended. Yet, despite his prolific career production, there were no takers, which has forced Ham and the team to continue to use him in some fashion.
Following his hiring, Ham spoke about trying to use Westbrook in more creative ways and was intent on offering positive reinforcement. There were also apparent discussions about using the veteran off the bench.
Westbrook’s opening performance of this season had been more positive: a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds in Tuesday night’s loss to the Golden State Warriors.
The comments by Bayless are nothing out of the ordinary for the media personality who has a penchant for offering controversial remarks. Many seem solely geared toward generating controversy or drawing attention to himself.
One of Bayless’ frequent targets has been James for any number of reasons. There have been instances in which Bayless has offered praise for James’ efforts, though the negative remarks seem to resonate much more strongly in the media.
Pointing the finger solely at Westbrook is slightly unfair, given that teammates Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn also struggled with their shooting against the Clippers.
Until much more evidence comes into play, Bayless’ conjecture shouldn’t be taken all that seriously. The Lakers have thus far lost to the defending NBA champions and a team that’s expected to be a strong contender for the Western Conference title.
Westbrook, Ham and the rest of the Lakers will have the opportunity to change the conversation on Sunday afternoon. That’s when they host the Portland Trail Blazers at Crypto.com Arena.