Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham has tinkered with his lineups all season long, and one of his most notable moves was to reassign guard D’Angelo Russell to a bench role.
Apparently, Ham didn’t make that decision himself. He consulted with LeBron James and Anthony Davis before making the change.
“The lineup change, sources told ESPN, was not a unilateral decision — Ham consulted with James and Davis on the concept — and its results were immediate: The Lakers beat the [Oklahoma City] Thunder on Dec. 23, with James putting up a vintage 40 points and L.A. dishing a season-high 37 assists,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin wrote.
Russell arrived in a big trade last February that sent out Russell Westbrook. That same deal also brought the Lakers defensive standout Jarred Vanderbilt and 3-point specialist Malik Beasley.
The Lakers had been struggling prior to that trade, but almost immediately, they took off, winning the vast majority of their remaining games and going all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
That success led them and their fans to expect big things for this season, especially after the team opted for continuity and gave Russell, Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves new contracts. However, so far, L.A. is just 18-19 and has been in a prolonged slump since claiming the first-ever NBA Cup about a month ago.
It is clear it doesn’t have nearly enough viable 3-point shooters, but Ham has also come under fire for some of his lineup decisions. Reportedly, there is what has been described as a “deepening disconnect” between him and his team, which has raised the question of whether he has lost the locker room.
The Lakers have the opportunity to fatten up their record and re-enter the Western Conference playoff picture, as they have many home games coming up over the next several weeks. However, they’re running out of time, as the midway point of the regular season is just days away.
At the same time, Ham did guide them to a very deep playoff run last season after they started 2-10, so it appears he does have some ability to help his players withstand adversity and achieve success.