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#pounditTuesday, September 27, 2022

Did Lakers coach send subtle message to Russell Westbrook?

Darvin Ham in a suit

Apr. 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 125-105. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Darvin Ham has gone out of his way to publicly support Russell Westbrook since the Los Angeles Lakers hired Ham as their new head coach. He insists he wants to work with the star point guard, but Ham may have sent a not-so-cryptic message to Westbrook during a recent interview.

During an appearance this week on the “All the Smoke” podcast, which is hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Ham was asked what fans should expect from the Lakers next season. He spoke about players and coaches holding themselves accountable. He also said the Lakers do not want players who are not all-in on playing for the team.

“We’re going to be together. The most together team always does well, always wins at the end of the day. And accountability,” Ham said, as transcribed by EuroHoops.net. “We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be defensive-minded. That’s the side of the ball where you’re going to see the quickest and most drastic improvement and we’re going to share offensively. Again, we want everybody all in on what we’re doing. We don’t want anybody that’s second-guessing being a Laker or (asking), ‘Am I in the right place?’ or this, that and the third.”

Ham did not mention names, of course. However, many felt his remarks may have been directed toward Westbrook.

Westbrook has been the subject of trade rumors dating back to last season. The 33-year-old recently parted ways with his agent, Thad Foucher, after 14 years together. In a statement, Foucher said the split was a result of “irreconcilable differences.” He also said he believes Westbrook’s best option is to remain with the Lakers. Since Foucher wants Westbrook to remain in L.A. and the two were not seeing eye-to-eye, that could mean Westbrook is seeking a trade.

Ham has repeatedly said he is excited to coach Westbrook. However, a recent report indicated that Westbrook may not be willing to make the changes necessary to succeed with the Lakers. Even if Westbrook has not formally requested a trade, it is possible he wants a fresh start elsewhere.

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