The Los Angeles Lakers have identified their new head coach.
Darvin Ham, an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, has been hired by the Lakers on a four-year contract, according to several reports.
When he was a member of the Detroit Pistons, Ham won a championship against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004.
Ham has no prior head coaching experience, however, from 2011 to 2013, he worked as an assistant coach for the Lakers, where he worked with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard.
After Frank Vogel was fired during the franchise’s worst season in franchise history, Ham was allegedly one of three finalists for the job.
Terry Stotts, the former head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Kenny Atkinson, the former head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, were also finalists. Stotts spoke with the Lakers in person earlier this week, and Ham met with them on Thursday, according to reports. Ham must have impressed his former coworkers because he was apparently offered the position less than 24 hours afterward. Because Atkinson is presently an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, who are headed back to the NBA Finals, it is uncertain if he met with the Lakers in person.
Ham joined Mike Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta after his coaching tenure with the Lakers and followed the coach to Milwaukee. As an assistant coach with the Bucks in 2021, he won a title.
Despite his championship coaching credentials, which the Lakers allegedly admired but didn’t have with Vogel, Ham will have his job cut out for him in his debut season as a coach.
Last season, the Lakers went 33-49, ending in a dismal 11th place in the Western Conference and missing out on the playoffs entirely.
In the offseason, the team assembled a superstar combination of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, and the pressure of high expectations quickly followed. Davis, on the other hand, was out for the majority of the season, James was in and out of the lineup, and Westbrook never found his stride.
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According to sources, the Lakers asked all the potential coaching candidates how they would handle Westbrook next season, but if the former MVP and triple-double monster can’t operate under a championship-caliber coach like Vogel, it’ll be difficult for him to fit in with Ham.
That means Ham, his new coaching staff, and the Lakers’ front office will have to figure out what to do with Westbrook and the rest of the roster in the coming months.
What about Lakers fans hoping for a big-name hire such as Nick Nurse, Quinn Snyder, or Doc Rivers? That didn’t happen, but on the bright side, LeBron James’ team won the NBA Championship the last time he had a first-year head coach.