They were the biggest questions as soon as the Lakers acquired Patrick Beverley — will Russell Westbrook still be a Laker? If he is, can he co-exist with his on-court nemesis, Beverley?
Tuesday, as Beverley was officially introduced in a press conference as a member of the Lakers, Westbrook was the lone player on the current roster in the room. And as Beverley, fresh from an on-court workout, continued to have sweat pour down his face, it was Westbrook tossing him a towel.
“First dime of the year,” Beverley joked.
With training camp three weeks away, Beverley, Westbrook and coach Darvin Ham all seemed committed to making things work — with Ham saying he’s not afraid to use a starting backcourt of Beverley and Westbrook if the two “defend.”
Ham said he viewed the two as a great fit because of their intensity, something Beverley has brought with him throughout his career.
“His goal, really, hasn’t been accolades,” Ham said of Beverley. “It’s been his impact on winning basketball. And time and time again, whether it’s Houston, the Clippers, Minnesota, he’s made his presence felt in a major, major way. And we look forward to him continuing to do that here.
“I think he’s going to be a lovely addition to our ballclub and a great tone-setter. You heard him mention the grit, the grind, just being a dog out there. … I can’t wait to coach him. … I want to help him get that championship ring.”
Beverley, 34, played in 58 games last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves after spending four years as an emotional leader for the Clippers. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds for the Timberwolves, though his three-point shooting dipped to 34.3% — the lowest of his 10-year NBA career.
Regarded as one of the NBA’s great irritants for his defensive intensity and attitude, Beverley joins a backcourt that currently features Westbrook, Kendrick Nunn, Lonnie Walker IV and Austin Reaves.
Beverley has had some durability problems, playing more than 60 games only once in the last five seasons. He was traded to Utah by Minnesota as part of the Rudy Gobert blockbuster deal earlier this summer and had been expected to land with another team.
Beverley was originally picked with the Lakers’ second-round pick in 2009, though they traded the selection for a future second-rounder and cash on draft night.