New Lakers coach Darvin Ham said he’s willing to pair them together, with one caveat.
“If they play defense,” Ham told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and other media members. “We’ve got awhile. That’s still a ways off, but definitely. People get caught up in the starting lineups a lot, but you look at who is finishing games. Those starters, they’re out there to set that tone for the entire team throughout the game. But, I’m not scared of that. It’s definitely a bullet in the chamber. We’re looking forward to it man, those guys in the backcourt together.”
The introductory press conference for Beverley, who was acquired from the Jazz late last month, included a twist: It was attended by Westbrook, who even threw a towel to Beverley as he wiped away sweat after a workout.
Their rivalry goes back to the 2013 playoffs, when Beverley dove for a steal as Westbrook tried to call a timeout, resulting in Westbrook tearing his meniscus. They were talking trash to each other as recently as last season but now appear willing to coexist, the Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike relays.
“A player with that competitive spirit, that fire, that will, that dog, that nastiness, that grit, to have a running mate like that, I have never had that,” Beverley said of Westbrook. “So I am super excited to see where it goes. Obviously like any relationship or any marriage, things, we are going to have tough conversations. That is what comes with winning but I am excited about those conversations, I am excited about the practices.”
Both guards will be free agents next summer — Westbrook has an expiring $47MM deal, while Beverley is making $13MM during the upcoming season.
Beverley said he’s not going to change the culture of a team but he wants to play a role in its turnaround after it failed to make the playoffs last season.
“You can see all the banners, but you know, it’s what have you done for me lately?” he said. “And lately, haven’t been a good team.”