LAS VEGAS — Darvin Ham is the Lakers’ chef, but more like one on “Chopped” — he does not get to pick his key ingredients.
Right now his basket includes Russell Westbrook, but by the time the season opens Westbrook could be out and Kyrie Irving could be in. Both Westbrook and LeBron James were at the Lakers’ Summer League opener Friday night, and they sat on opposite sides of the Thomas & Mack floor and, as far as anyone saw, did not speak.
All chef Ham can do is treat each player with respect while he has them, which he did while speaking to reporters at halftime of that Summer League game. Via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
“We love everyone on our roster,” Ham told reporters Friday… “And until you’re not on our roster, you’re ours and we’re going to try to get better with the group that we have. That’s just the bottom line of it.
“I don’t know a player that’s come through this league in my 26 years that hasn’t had their name part of a trade rumor a time or two. But, it is what it is. It’s the nature of the beast of our business. And so, again, the guys we have on our roster I’m very thankful for, I’m proud of and we want to maximize everything they can do to help us get to that ultimate goal.”
What else can Ham do or say? He knows the situation, he knows it’s fluid, all he can do is ride the wave.
Expect Irving to be a Laker, eventually. League sources have told NBC Sports there is only one serious suitor for Irving, and it’s the Lakers. But it’s a complex trade — the Nets don’t want Westbrook on their roster, a third team will need to be part of this, and then there is the question of what other picks and players (Joe Harris?) are part of the deal. Plus, Brooklyn is focused on getting its Kevin Durant trade done first — that deal is plenty complex, too — so it could be a while.
Ham’s ingredients are going to change, but all he can do now is work with what he has and keep those players happy. Ham continues to win the press conferences, but the real tests lie ahead.