Lakers coach Darvin Ham speaks glowingly of Russell Westbrook

For months, it has seemed that virtually every Los Angeles Lakers fan has wanted Russell Westbrook to leave the team, one way or another.

Fans are dreaming of him being sent out for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, which, if it happened, would be L.A.’s dream scenario and a move that would instantly make it a championship contender again.

But it has also seemed like Lakers fans would’ve been happy if Westbrook were simply waived and the team got nothing in return for him.

New head coach Darvin Ham has a different view of the nine-time All-Star.

In fact, he had some very complimentary things to say about the 2017 NBA MVP.

Via Lakers Daily:

“‘Counted out prematurely,’ he told Andscape’s Marc J. Spears regarding Westbrook. ‘Counted out. Prematurely. I’ve had some great interactions with Russ, in person, over dinner, over the phone, over text messages. I love Russell Westbrook, man. Just his mentality, his approach. Just to see him, a guy of that magnitude and everything he’s done in the league to get hated on. But being me, I got a wholehearted plan, a clear plan on how I’m going to use him. I showed it to him, sat down, brought stuff up for him. I think he’s going to flourish. We ain’t going to try to curtail his energy. We’re just going to diversify it, redirect it.’

“Ham also made it clear that he “indeed” sees Westbrook as a starter on the team.

“‘Yes, indeed,’ he said when asked if he sees Westbrook as a starter. ‘It’s just the way we’re going to play and the type of people that’s going to be out there on the floor, that’s the biggest thing.'”

Cynics may feel that Ham’s positive comments on Westbrook are nothing more than posturing and fluff in a futile attempt to give him steam some leverage while negotiating to land Irving.

But the more likely scenario is that Ham is operating as if the current roster is the one he will be taking into training camp.

The good news for the Lakers is that Westbrook and Ham have reportedly started their relationship off on the right foot. If the former is still on the team when the new season kicks off, perhaps he will be more receptive to being coached than he reportedly was this past season.

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Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire