Since being hired, Darvin Ham has repeatedly stated his intent to turn Russell Westbrook into a high-level role player with the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite ongoing trade rumors, LeBron and Russ' iciness, and the Lakers' acquisition of another veteran point guard, Patrick Beverley — who happens to be a well-fitting role player and Westbrook's personal nemesis — Ham has reportedly not wavered from his vision.

Here's what NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote in his latest Substack newsletter:

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“Yet I am also hearing that, if no trade involving Westbrook materializes and if he is on the roster when the Lakers start practicing on Sept. 27, new Lakers coach Darvin Ham remains determined to carve out a real role for Westbrook. Sources say that the Lakers, to date, have strongly resisted the idea of shelving Westbrook completely until they can find a trade for him like the Rockets tried last season with John Wall — even after trading for longtime Westbrook adversary Patrick Beverley. Westbrook, who turns 34 in November, appeared in 78 of the Lakers’ 82 games last season.

If you followed social media this week, you surely saw that the Lakers’ messaging that Westbrook is in their plans is increasing in frequency even post-Beverley trade, suggesting that the club is bracing for the status quo as a highly anticipated Media Day in both L.A. and Brooklyn draws near on Sept. 26. There was an unexpected LeBron James tweet touting that a bounce-back season for Westbrook is looming, followed by a tweet from the Lakers’ official account highlighting his offseason preparations alongside various teammates.”

While I've never doubted that Ham's optimism about making it work with Westbrook is genuine (and what else is he supposed to say?), I am skeptical that his vision can come to fruition. Frank Vogel and the Lakers had similar plans for Westbrook, only for Russ to revert to his ball-dominant, offense-only game and refuse to adapt around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Westbrook has been deeply stubborn in terms of accepting his limitations and adjusting accordingly. The notion that, in Year 15, he's suddenly going to morph into a defensive stopper, off-ball mover, and corner-3 specialist seems farfetched.

Apparently, Westbrook's former agent, That Foucher, agrees. Earlier this summer, Westbrook split with his agent of 14 years, causing Foucher to release a bonkers statement implying that the 34-year-old would rather be traded than play a lesser role.

Stein also reported that Westbrook and the Lakers would “likely” get involved in any Donovan Mitchell blockbuster between the Jazz and New York Knicks. The Lakers could probably net Myles Turner and Buddy Hield for Russ, if they included both of their tradable first-round picks (2027, 2029).

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the Lakers have not taken the idea of “John Wall-ing” Russ for the season (or until a trade emerges closer to the deadline) off the table.

Ironically, Beverley checks precisely the boxes Ham is looking for from Russ: a gritty, two-way floor spacer who can gel alongside LeBron and AD and embrace whatever role is asked.