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Darvin Ham having “permission” to bench Russell Westbrook isn’t the good look the Lakers think it is

Leaking that your brand new head coach is prepared to bench his Hall of Fame point guard months before they’re on the court together is certainly one way to prepare for the season.

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Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Darvin Ham Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Russell Westbrook’s relationship with Frank Vogel last year was a source of equal parts frustration and hilarity. Vogel’s crime, according to Westbrook: Daring to hold his starting point guard accountable. Wild concept, I guess.

Now, as Westbrook, the Lakers, and everyone watching brace for a potential second season of this broken partnership, apparently, someone thinks it’s a good idea to leak that Darvin Ham will be allowed to coach.

This implies that, A) Frank Vogel apparently wasn’t, and now a rookie head coach will be trusted more than one who helped win the Lakers their 17th championship and, B) that before this new relationship even begins, everyone is bracing for the wheels to fall off.

Normally, when anything leaks, it’s because someone thinks it’s a good look for them. In this case, though, it’s pretty difficult (maybe impossible) to figure out who benefits from this getting out there. All this does is make things awkward for Ham, who, again, is preparing for his first season as an NBA head coach. It also once again sends the message to Westbrook that no one is actually excited about the prospect of bringing him back.

And again, it craps on Vogel who, I repeat (it’s weird I have to repeat this), won you an effing championship.

If the Lakers are serious about being willing or even excited to bring Westbrook back, then they have to actually sound convincing in their enthusiasm. To this point, every time running it back is brought up, it feels like a threat to their fans. Now, if they’re prepping for eventually benching him, it feels like a threat to their brand new head coach.

All this is to say, once again, that bringing back Westbrook just cannot be an option here. He knows it. The Lakers seem to know it. LeBron James sure as hell is indicating he knows it. A return can’t happen.

To be clear, there is still plenty of time for the Lakers to accept reality and move as many picks as it takes to jettison Westbrook and bring back some real help. The longer this goes on, though, the more opportunities the Lakers will have to show they don’t have a grasp of what positive press looks like.

This week on “The Hook,” I spoke to Aaron Larsuel about James’ extension, the potential messages he might be sending to Anthony Davis and the rest of his teammates with his different workout regimen, Kendrick Nunn’s perpetually bruised knee, and more.

You can listen to the full episode below, and to make sure you never miss a show, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts.

And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.