Before LeBron James became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer on Tuesday night, Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and head coach Darvin Ham had a “brief, heated verbal exchange” in the locker room at halftime, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
According to Wojnarowski, Ham expressed displeasure with the way Westbrook lingered on the court after being subbed out of the game late in the second quarter.
However, Wojnarowski says that after voices were raised, the discussion turned back to trying to win Tuesday’s contest vs. Oklahoma City. Westbrook and Ham dapped up before leaving the arena later in the night, according to Woj, who points out that the former MVP was part of the Lakers’ closing lineup in the loss to the Thunder.
Westbrook and assistant coach Phil Handy also had a heated discussion on the bench in the first half of the game, says Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
Verbal confrontations between coaches and players aren’t exactly rare in the NBA, and the Lakers will surely downplay the heated discussion Westbrook and Ham had at halftime. Still, both the team and the veteran guard are under a microscope this week with the trade deadline looming.
Westbrook has been viewed as a trade candidate for the better part of a year and his name popped up in rumors again as of late. In addition to having reportedly talked to both Charlotte and Utah about possible deals involving the 34-year-old, the Lakers included him in their offer for Kyrie Irving before Brooklyn sent Irving to Dallas. James subsequently expressed disappointment that the Lakers were unable to land Irving.
Tuesday’s halftime exchange is unlikely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and convinces the Lakers to trade Westbrook, but with the guard’s future in Los Angeles very much up in the air and the 25-30 Lakers looking for a shot in the arm, it’s one more reason to keep an eye on the situation in L.A.