The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as their head coach, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The Lakers interviewed a number of candidates, but as the search drew to a close, they focused on three finalists: Ham, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. In the end, Ham was able to win out over his more experienced competition and will receive a four-year deal to coach the franchise, per Shams Charania.
Ham, a small forward in his playing days, managed to eke out an NBA career that lasted nearly a decade. He won a championship with the 2004 Pistons and participated in the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, but he has since made his name as an assistant coach. After a few years in the G League, Ham’s first NBA coaching job came with the Lakers. He worked under Phil Jackson from 2011-2013, just narrowly missing out on Kobe Bryant’s last two championships.
His rise to prominence didn’t come in Los Angeles, though. He left the Lakers in 2013 to join Mike Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta, and he has worked under Budenholzer ever since. Ham has been Budenholzer’s top assistant for the past few years, and the pair won a championship together in 2021. Thus far, coaches from the Budenholzer tree have been fairly successful in their own jobs. Rumored Lakers candidate Quin Snyder, Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins and, ironically, Atkinson have all worked under Budenholzer. The Lakers likely valued that experience as they also interviewed another Budenholzer assistant: Charles Lee. Now Ham will be a head coach for the first time in his career, and he’s got his work cut out for him given the year the Lakers just had.
Despite entering the season as Western Conference favorites, the Lakers just missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record. Their trade for Russell Westbrook was a disaster, and Frank Vogel was fired as head coach mere seconds after the final buzzer of the season finale. The roster needs an overhaul, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have dealt with injuries for two years, and in a loaded Western Conference, making the playoffs is going to be harder than ever.
Courtesy; CBS Sports