The Los Angeles Lakers are sliding in the standings with their playoff chances becoming slimmer as the days pass. Four losses in the last five games sent a five-game winning streak before that into the trash.
Slowly, the Lakers are entering a point in the season where a playoff push may be out of the cards — a tough position for Darvin Ham. To call his first season as an NBA head coach a bumpy ride might be an understatement. The Lakers have had three stretches of at least four straight losses plus one five-game and two three-game win streaks.
Consistency has been difficult to find with injuries to key players coming often. After Anthony Davis was injured in late December, the momentum the Lakers were building fell flat. L.A. lost five of their next seven games after Davis’ injury.
But, Ham is still supported by the Lakers brass, evident in an encounter with Jeanie Buss after their Christmas road trip, via Tania Ganguli of the New York Times:
“She gave me a big hug and told me: ‘Hang in there, you’re doing a phenomenal job and things are going to get right. We’re going to start winning consistently, but Darvin, we’re totally happy with what you’re doing and you and your staff are doing an excellent job,’” Ham said. “It was cool. It was really thoughtful.”
Buss’ support for Ham is nothing new. In Nov. 2022, the head coach talked about how thankful he was for her and general manager Rob Pelinka’s support. In the offseason, Buss also ensured Ham would have whatever necessary “time and resources” to put the team together.
Those two seem to have a strong relationship full of communication. It’s a recipe for success, though that hasn’t been leading to consistent wins. However, that inconsistency hasn’t impacted the energy between Ham and the front office:
Ham said the mood when he sees both Buss and Pelinka is light and full of smiles.
“It’s not like a lack of an awareness, but just a gratefulness, a thankfulness to be in this together,” Ham said.
Having that aligned positive outlook with your head coach can go a long way. Buss and Pelinka are firmly in Ham’s corner, willing to grow with the head coach as his first year continues — a partnership that didn’t seem to be around during Frank Vogel’s final days in charge.
However, how long that continues is unclear. If losses pile up, the mood can surely shift from positive to negative, which can happen sooner than the front office might believe.
Darvin Ham and LeBron James discuss NBA officiating issues
After the Lakers’ recent loss to the Sacramento Kings, it was found in the league’s last two minute report that Kendrick Nunn was fouled on his 3-pointer and should have gone to the line to convert a possible four-point play.
Ham reacted to the recent last two minute reports surrounding the Lakers, instead pushing to focus on the basketball.
“I don’t like to go down that road,” he said. “It’s great that they try to provide that clarity, but after the fact, if it’s something that’s not done correctly in the moment then it’s just like ‘OK, you just confirmed that I was right and you were wrong.’ It’s those huge, game-changing plays, but at the end of the day, you can only control what you can control.”
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