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Darvin Ham holds power to bench Russell Westbrook at end of games

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Darvin Ham holds power to bench Russell Westbrook at end of games
USA Today Network

Lakers coach Darvin Ham holds power to bench Russell Westbrook at the end of games, according to NBA sources. Fans thought G.M. Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss would have a bigger say. That’s not the case. Ham will be in the driver seat for the 2022-23 NBA season.

Per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Ham could maybe even remove the triple-double king from the Lakers’ starting lineup. “Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook down the stretch of games,” explains Buha. “That could eventually extend to removing Westbrook from the starting lineup as well.”

Will Darvin Ham bench Russell Westbrook to prevent injuries?

Of course, the decision to pull Westbrook will depend entirely on matchups and special-play situations. For shot creation, there is a great chance the 14-year veteran will be on the court. However, he might not be the best option defensively. Injuries are another factor to consider.

Since the Lakers never traded for Kyrie Irving, the coaching staff will have to find a way to make it work with Westbrook. When asked about his back injury last season, Westbrook told reporters: “It comes and goes. I’m not accustomed to sitting down for long stretches.”

Then again, if the guard seeks a trade in the coming months, that’ll be it. Darvin Ham can only do so much to convince Westbrook to make sacrifices for the better of the team.

Through 1,021 career games, Westbrook has averaged 22.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Nonetheless, the guard failed to generate at least 20 points per game with the Lakers.

In the 2021-22 season, the nine-time All-Star averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1 steal per game. In 78 games started, the guard also averaged 44.4% shooting from the field and 29.8% from 3-point range.

Not to mention, in addition to shooting 66.7% at the free throw line, he averaged a career-low 3.4 free throw attempts per game. He has to stay healthy and play better basketball next season. If Westbrook wants to raise his trade value, now is the time to perform at a higher level.

Westbrook signed with Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management

In other news, Westbrook signed with Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management a few days ago. Last month, the two-time scoring champion parted ways with Wasserman’s Thad Foucher, the longtime agent who helped negotiate the guard’s five-year, $205 million contract with the Thunder in 2017.

Over the past few seasons, the Lakers have struggled to overcome injuries and lackluster management. In May, the front office hired Ham to replace Frank Vogel.

The Lakers finished with a disappointing 33-49 (.402) record last season. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook have to play better together. Although LeBron James averaged 30.3 points per game, he still went on to miss the playoffs with his team for just the fourth time of his NBA career.

More news stories regarding Darvin Ham, Russell Westbrook and the Lakers are on the main page.

James is a Basketball Insiders contributor. He earned his bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. James enjoys watching sports and helping gamblers win money.

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