Darvin Ham’s media tour since being hired by the Lakers has included many stops with radio shows, podcasts and Summer League in-game interviews galore. His most recent stop was on Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s “All The Smoke” podcast.
Because of the personality of the hosts and the gravitas that comes with being NBA veterans, guests often open up to them in a way they often do not in other appearances. As was the case for Ham, who, while still toeing the company line with his answers at times, provided an eyebrow-raising one as well.
When asked by Barnes to look into the camera to let Lakers fans know what to expect from the team this year, Ham had the following to say (emphasis mine):
“Competing at a high level. We’re going to be together. The most together team always does well, always wins at the end of the day. And accountability. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be defensive-minded. That’s the side of the ball where you’re going to see the quickest and most drastic improvement and we’re going to share offensively. Again, we want everybody all in on what we’re doing. We don’t want anybody that’s second-guessing being a Laker or ‘Am I in the right place?’ or this, that and the third.”
Now, considering the recent move from Russell Westbrook to fire his agent — an agent who then made a public statement about how he felt Russ’ best move was to remain with the franchise — these comments seem... pointed. Perhaps they weren’t meant as a direct shot to Russ, but it’s hard not to view them in really any other light.
To Ham’s credit, he has said all the right things when it comes to Russ during said media tour, even if the team itself spent all that time shopping him. But given Russ’ most recent actions, it’s clear he has a different mindset than perhaps Ham has, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if these comments were at least partially meant for him.
AD among the league’s best
Elsewhere in the interview, Ham discussed Anthony Davis, another player who has faced a different kind of scrutiny. Earlier in the offseason, Davis’ comments about not picking up a basketball sparked a host of wild overreactions.
Ham didn’t comment specifically on that but did discuss Davis, calling him a top three player in the world when healthy.
“Just to be healthy because at the end of the day, it all starts and end there with him. His skillset is undeniable so, like you said, when he’s healthy like he was in 2020 in that bubble run, he’s top five in the league. Top three.”
AD’s bubble run will always be looked upon as the peak of his career. The question is, will it be among the many peaks or will it be a level he’ll never be able to reach again?
Rasheed to the Lakers?
It seems long ago when Rasheed Wallace was linked to the Lakers coaching staff. With Ham still working to fill out the staff, Sheed has not been confirmed as part of the staff. And one of the viral moments from the podcast centered on Sheed.
Slightly awkward here: Matt Barnes, sitting next to Darvin Ham, looks directly into the camera and implores Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka to add Rasheed Wallace to the Lakers' coaching staff:https://t.co/nd4DDlW3vs pic.twitter.com/j9QPQmI6UE— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) July 21, 2022
Later on in the podcast, Ham talked about his connection with Wallace as the two played together on the 2004 Pistons team. The stories were too long and winding to transcribe, but here’s one specific part that gives some insight into his relationship with Wallace.
“Again, just to still be able to vibe and talk and communicate and have break bread sessions with these guys from all the way back then, Sheed’s that way.”
Given the fact that the team hasn’t announced a staff, it’s uncertain if Wallace is or will be part of it. But it’s also hard to imagine Matt Barnes making pleas to the camera if Sheed already was on the staff.
As a reminder, reports were that Ham would have full autonomy in naming the rest of his coaching staff. That’s contrasted with how the team handled their last coaching search, when the front office wanted a heavy say in who would be on the staff, namely in Jason Kidd.
We don’t yet know if a similar situation is playing out, but this kind of awkwardness simply isn’t a great sign!