Los Angeles Lakers’ Darvin Ham on trade buzz — ‘We love everyone on our roster’

LAS VEGAS — Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham knows the team he has now could look significantly different when he coaches important games in the fall, but he still welcomes his current group.

“We love everyone on our roster,” Ham told reporters Friday at halftime of LA’s 104-84 summer league loss to the Phoenix Suns. “And until you’re not on our list, you’re ours and we’ll try to get better with the group we have. That’s just the bottom line.

“I don’t know of any player who has come through this league in my 26 years who hasn’t had his name part of a trade rumor once or twice. But it is what it is. It’s the nature of the beast of us I’m very grateful for the guys in our squad I’m proud of and we want to maximize everything they can do to help us achieve that ultimate goal.

When the Lakers try to push it back with the same core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, who contributed to one of the most disappointing campaigns in franchise history in their first season together last year, Ham’s show of confidence can only help him with player relationships down the line.

But that remains a big if.

The Lakers Summer League roster might have been on the court playing the Suns, but all eyes were on the sidelines at Thomas & Mack Arena, where James and Westbrook couldn’t be further apart.

James sat on the southern baseline, flanked by his Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul and his longtime friend and Lakers executive Randy Mims. Meanwhile, Westbrook positioned himself next to the Lakers’ bench on the opposite touchline.

Between the first and second quarters, Ham and Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka came over from their seats on the halfcourt to greet James. Pelinka and the LA star engaged in a brief conversation, covering their hands with their hands out of discretion.

As the Lakers have been in trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers for the past week — with sources telling ESPN both scenarios involve Westbrook’s departure — James and Westbrook’s positioning has been notable.

Several other Lakers players in attendance — Talen Horton-Tucker, Wenyen Gabriel and Thomas Bryant — made their way to James.

But James and Westbrook stayed in their respective corners, with Westbrook coming out of one tunnel at half-time and James going out of another after the third quarter.

Asked if Ham has tried to build camaraderie among the Lakers’ marquee names in James, Westbrook and Davis since he was named head coach last month, Ham said their summer plans made it difficult.

“It’s a weird time of year,” Ham said. “AD has a newborn on the way. These guys have busy schedules. They are busy boys. Russ does his fashion thing Boys have businesses outside of basketball. But they do a good job of staying connected whenever I need them, whenever I need thoughts from all three, they’re right there with me.

Westbrook and James might have been stationed far apart on Friday, but both had their say in the action, particularly with rookie guard Scotty Pippen Jr. signing a two-way deal with LA last month.

Pippen led LA with 19 points but also had five turnovers, with the Phoenix defense targeting him as the Lakers’ primary playmaker.

“He gave me some pointers and I ended up using them,” Pippen said of the advice Westbrook gave on how to thwart the Suns’ defensive pressure.

James offered a different kind of support, literally helping to lift Pippen off the ground after absorbing contact at the rim in the first half and crashing near James’ feet.

“I think that was cool,” Pippen said, before adding with a laugh, “He threw me a little too high.”

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34214985/los-angeles-lakers-darvin-ham-trade-buzz-love-everyone-our-roster Los Angeles Lakers’ Darvin Ham on trade buzz — ‘We love everyone on our roster’

Emma Bowman

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