The Los Angeles Lakers held their introductory press conference for new Coach Darvin Ham on Monday afternoon. Ham, whose first assistant job was with the Lakers from 2011-2013, said coming to LA is “like coming back home.”
Among the players present at Ham’s intro to LA as a head coach was Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook struggled more than many expected this season, averaging 18.5 points per game and shooting 44 percent from the field and 29.8 from the 3-point range. Westbrook drew the ire and blame for the Lakers missing the playoffs, and he was even pulled from the Lakers’ closing-time lineup by former coach Frank Vogel. Some fans and media even called for Westbrook to be traded.
When asked about the Brodie, Ham said he expects to see Westbrook on the roster and expects the former MVP to play like the tenacious, high-energy player that he’s been, though he might have to do it more off of the ball.
“Don’t get it messed up. Russell is one of the best players our league has ever seen,” Ham said. “He still has a ton left in that tank. I don’t know why people tend to write him off. I’m going to approach him like every player I’ve ever encountered. We’re going to talk about our running habits with the ball without the ball.
“Again, share the load defensively and offensively. Defensively is where you’re going to see us make our biggest leaps and bounds. We have to commit to the defensive side of the ball, or we don’t have a chance to do anything. The offense won’t even matter if we don’t get stops.”
“Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen. There’s still a ton left in that tank.”
Lakers new Head Coach Darvin Ham on Westbrook. pic.twitter.com/gYCmWMaeZF
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 6, 2022
General manager Rob Pelinka endorsed Ham during the press conference, saying how impressed he was with how Ham spoke about “sacrifice” and “toughness.” Ham’s main priority will be to turn their defense around, but as far as the Lakers’ offensive style, Ham said he wanted to use the “four out, one in” alignment that’s helped the Bucks and Hawks thrive under Ham’s former boss, Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer.
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