Report: Darvin Ham determined to carve out ‘real role’ for Russell Westbrook if no trade materializes

Brad Sullivan
4 Min Read

If Russell Westbrook remains with the Los Angeles Lakers, a new report indicates that new head coach Darvin Ham appears ready to make a place for him in the team’s lineup.

Marc Stein of “The Stein Line” noted the trade talk continuing to surround Westbrook, but that Ham wants to try to tap into the talent that made Westbrook a superstar player.

“Yet I am also hearing that, if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains determined to carve out a real role for Westbrook,” Stein wrote. “Sources say that the Lakers, to date, have strongly resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him like the Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for longtime Westbrook adversary Patrick Beverley. Westbrook, who turns 34 in November, appeared in 78 of the Lakers’ 82 games last season.”

Just one year ago, Westbrook was seen as a central component in helping the Lakers strongly compete for another NBA title. That vision quickly became clouded and has since resulted in the Lakers inquiring about a new home for the veteran guard.

Westbrook has made his name in the NBA by becoming prolific at delivering triple-doubles. He averaged a triple-double during four different seasons, while leading the league in scoring twice and in assists three times.

However, Westbrook has yet to be part of an NBA championship squad, despite his huge level of production. Most notably, his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder resulted in a loss in the 2012 NBA Finals and a Western Conference finals loss four years later.

Besides Westbrook’s struggles last season, injuries to both James and Davis also played a key role in why the Lakers failed to even reach the postseason. Yet, it was Westbrook who bore the brunt of the criticism directed at the Lakers for their implosion last season.

Clearly, Ham feels confident that he can help integrate Westbrook into a Lakers lineup that has LeBron James and Anthony Davis already on it.

Right now, there’s no indication that Westbrook will be dealt anytime soon. That means that Ham really has no other choice but to use the veteran guard.

One basic reason is that Westbrook is in the final year of a contract that’s set to pay him $47.1 million for the coming season. Simply not playing someone making that kind of money who can still contribute on the court makes little economic sense.

The question for Lakers fans thus centers around exactly what Ham plans to do in this apparent scenario. The level of success he has with the team this season will ultimately be determined by how many wins the Lakers have at the end of the season.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.