Russell Westbrook, Lakers coach Darvin Ham have 'understanding' after hamstring injury comments

Russell Westbrook and coach Darvin Ham have come to “an understanding.”

Just days after Westbrook hinted that coming off of the bench led to his hamstring injury, Ham insisted on Thursday night that he and the veteran guard are on the same page.

And, for Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Westbrook was once again back in the starting lineup.

"We moved on, we got an understanding," Ham said, via ESPN. "As the coach of this team, we're going to do what's best for our team to be as successful as it can be. And I'll just leave it at that."

Westbrook found himself on the bench for the final minutes of Thursday night's game after failing to make a single field goal, scoring two points. Westbrook went 0-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-6 on three-point attempts. On the other end of the ball, he was able to record five steals.

Westbrook thinks bench led to hamstring injury

Westbrook came off the bench during the Lakers’ preseason finale against the Sacramento Kings, something Ham said he was going to try to see how he would work running the second unit.

Yet, Westbrook played just five minutes in that game and strained his hamstring in the process.

On Tuesday night, after their season-opening loss to the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook made it clear why he thought he got hurt. It was because he came off the bench.

“I’ve been doing the same thing for 14 years straight,” Westbrook said Tuesday. “Honestly, I didn’t even know what to do pregame. Being honest, I was just trying to figure out how to stay warm and loose … That’s something I just wasn’t accustomed to.”

Ham, however, insisted that couldn’t be the case.

"Let me be clear with this," Ham said, via ESPN. "The Lakers, myself, my staff, we would in no way, shape or form put a player or an employee in harm's way. Physically, mentally, spiritually. We don't stand for that. We're not about that. That's not who we are."

Westbrook had 19 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes in Tuesday’s loss.

While he’s struggled at times since landing in Los Angeles, and his presence hasn’t always been a welcome sight to fans, Ham said Westbrook still has plenty of value to bring to the Lakers.

They just have to use him the right way.

"He's been around a long time. He's been a high-level player for a very long time. So, I know what that's about and how that is," Ham said, via ESPN. "But on the other hand, you have to be prepared to do whatever your team needs you to do. And that's called being a professional. So, however we choose to use him, there has to be a willingness there to sacrifice for your teammates and overall good of the team if that course of action is going to lead to success."

Los Angeles Lakers' Russell Westbrook
Darvin Ham insisted he would never "put a player or employee in harm's way" after Russell Westbrook's comments about the origins of his hamstring injury. (AP/Jae C. Hong)