Darvin Ham will soon make his head-coaching debut in the NBA, ushering in a new era at the Los Angeles Lakers. And the former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks assistant is facing a daunting task in the upcoming season as he will be trying to restore the franchise after a dreadful 2021-22 campaign.
The Lakers faithful overwhelmingly favored Ham during L.A.’s search for a new head coach. NBA executives also lauded the franchise’s pick with Jeanie Buss saying she has been receiving high praise for hiring the 49-year-old.
Ham’s qualifications cannot be overstated, but his inexperience can naturally be a worry considering the job’s difficulty. However, Ham has revealed he’s been seeking guidance from fellow NBA head coaches to make sure he’s best prepared for the journey he’s about to begin — with former Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder emerging as his biggest ally.
“Yeah, just to take things one day at a time,” Ham said during Tuesday’s practice. “I talk to Quin Snyder, he’s like my pro bono coaching consultant. So he calls and checks in with me a couple of times a week.
“Still communicating with Bud, Taylor Jenkins, Jamahl Mosley, Mike Brown, a ton of guys that I got long, deep relationships with all around the league that all tell me the same thing: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’
“You gave to just choose a couple or three things that you really want to get done and focus on that, and the rest is gonna take care of itself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Snyder was considered the Lakers’ main target early in the coaching search but in the end, the 55-year-old never appeared to be in the running.
The position could overwhelm even the most experienced coaches as Ham will have to turn the franchise’s fortunes around under the pressure of working with LeBron James in the last years of the future Hall-of-Famer’s career.
He’ll also have to find a suitable role for Russell Westbrook who seems all but certain to remain in L.A. despite his questionable fit.
Ham noncommittal on making Westbrook a starter
Ham is reportedly willing to make tough decisions to make sure he can implement his vision for the Lakers. Among them, reports claim, he might use Westbrook off the bench if necessary.
On Monday, the head coach didn’t commit to keeping Westbrook in the starting lineup, adding substance to the rumors that the 2017 NBA MVP might start games on the bench for the first time in his career. “We’re a ways away [from deciding our starting lineup],” Ham said.
“We’ve got several options, obviously we signed Dennis, we signed Pat Bev, we got a healthy Kendrick Nunn along with Russ himself, Austin Reaves. We’ve got a variety of options to fill our backcourt. But again, as I mentioned, we’ve got to have a defensive mindset.
“Those are the guys that are gonna get the minutes, guy that are going out there to get stops. And [Westbrook] said he is in on that, he told me personally he’s gonna commit to that side of the ball and that’s what camp is for. We’ll see.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!