Report: Lakers' Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook
Things could be very different for Russell Westbrook if he stays put with the Los Angeles Lakers this season.
New Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook late in games, sources told The Athletic's Jovan Buha.
Removing the former MVP during the closing stages could also lead to his ousting from the starting lineup, adds Buha.
Ex-Lakers bench boss Frank Vogel subbed Westbrook out in the fourth quarter of a few contests last season. The 49-year-old's failure to properly integrate the nine-time All-Star reportedly factored into his dismissal.
During his year-end media availability in April, Westbrook made it no secret that he didn't see eye to eye with Vogel.
"I've never had an issue with any of my coaches before," Westbrook told reporters, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. "I'm not sure what his issue was with me."
Westbrook exercised his $47.1-million player option for the 2022-23 campaign in June but has been involved in trade rumors throughout the summer.
However, Ham has spoken highly of Westbrook since taking the Lakers job in May and said he looks forward to working with him.
"Don't get it messed up: Russell is one of the best players our league has ever seen, and there's still a ton left in that tank," Ham told reporters at his introductory press conference, according to The Associated Press. "I don't know why people tend to try to write him off. I'm going to approach him like every player I've ever encountered."