Woke up and saw an aggregated story on CBS Sports with the headline Darvin Ham will have the power to bench Russell Westbrook if he stays with Lakers, per report. Was a bit confused because making coaching decisions seems like part of a head coach's job. Or it least it was when I was forming my connection to sports.
Tracked down the genesis and it's from a mailbag done by The Athletic's Jovan Buha. The relevant passage helpfully explains that Ham will have more power than Frank Vogel had last season, his final one on the Lakers bench before he was run out of town and his very recent championship buried.
What do you think the closing lineup will look like this season? — @GoatJamesss
Based on the current roster, I project the closing lineup to look something like this: Davis, Toscano-Anderson, James, Brown and Reaves. I think Westbrook will often be in there, too, but it will depend on how he’s shooting, his decision-making and his defense.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham will have more power to bench Westbrook down the stretch of games, according to league sources. (Former head coach Frank Vogel did so a few times last season). That could eventually extend to removing Westbrook from the starting lineup as well.
Westbrook opted in for $47 million to run it back with LeBron James and other geriatric Millennials desperately waiting for the upcoming Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers movie. Mostly because no other team was willing to pay such a bounty for such production and sideshow. Westbrook may be more open to a reduced role and easier to get along with because he wants to increase his value. And perhaps the relationship with Ham will have less friction.
It's just a bit startling to see an actual headline that says a coach will be allowed to decide which players play and which ones remain on the bench. That they'll be given power over the starting lineup. That used to be the norm.
Good for Ham, I guess? Or maybe good for all the other coaches who don't actually have to make decisions and still get paid. Strange new world.