Could the Los Angeles Lakers really open the 2022-23 NBA season with Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverley side-by-side — in the same lineup?

Apparently, that's the vision of first-year head coach Darvin Ham. According to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, Beverley and Westbrook — two point guards and long-running nemeses — have already begun the process of mending fences. Ham even sees the two running together, at times.

Naturally, the Lakers' acquisition of Beverley (in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson) only fueled speculation that Westbrook could soon be out the door, either via trade or in a John Wall situation. Not only do the two 34-year-olds play the same position, but Beverley, as a gritty, defense-first player with complimentary playmaking skills and shooting prowess, checks more boxes in terms of what Ham is looking for in two-way role players to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Westbrook, by contrast, has been resistant to adapt his game since joining the Lakers and fired his agent for suggesting he embrace the type of role that Ham envisions — as an active off-ball mover, reliable defender, and corner shooter.

Oh, yeah: And they've despised each other for years.

Ham has been steadfast in stating his belief in Russ since being hired way back in June — long before Beverley was in the mix. But, the front office has been actively shopping Westbrook since before last February's trade deadline, so any feelings the team makes public about Russ are going to be positive and optimistic — for the purposes of trade leverage and … what else are they supposed to communicate?

At the moment, Austin Reaves is the favorite to open the season at the starting two-guard spot. Kendrick Nunn and Troy Brown Jr. are in the mix, as well. Of course, who finishes ballgames is more important than who starts.

After being traded to the Lakers, Beverley seemed to extend an olive branch to Russ, though it's really up to Westbrook to forgive his rival. Their beef began after Beverley dove into Westbrook's knee (thereby ending the Oklahoma City Thunder's 2013 title hopes), an act which he repeated multiple times since.

Certainly, this can all work if the two are able to make amends and Westbrook is willing to embrace Ham's vision. Two big “ifs”, there.