The Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a new head coach has reportedly entered the decisive phase with Darvin Ham, Kenny Atkinson and Terry Stotts progressing to the final interview round.
Ham is the least experienced of the three men and has never been a head coach in the NBA. However, a big chunk of the Lakers faithful seems to be rooting for the Milwaukee Bucks assistant, widely considered a potential dark horse in the race for the job.
Besides winning the championship with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, Ham served as L.A.’s assistant between 2011-2013, giving him an edge over Atkinson and Stotts as the only candidate who knows the organization.
According to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, the 48-year-old’s personality impressed the Lakers during his time in L.A. — and, what’s more, even LeBron James thinks he is the right person to get the most out of the Purple and Gold’s veteran ballpark:
The Lakers may be willing to take that leap of faith because Ham spent two years with the organization. His personality isn’t easily forgotten. Ham brings a lot of energy to a gym. He’s arguably the best fit for the locker room, with veterans like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and possibly Russell Westbrook in need of a coach they can relate to and respect.
“He’s the guy LeBron wants,” a competing source said.
Previous reports claimed Ham made the strongest impression of all candidates ahead of the final interview round.
Last month, vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said the Lakers would look for a strong voice to lead the coaching staff — and Ham’s no-nonsense approach could be exactly what the front office wants.
Lakers still prefer to part ways with Westbrook
The Lakers were widely reported to have asked head coach interviewees how they would utilize Russell Westbrook next season. However, rumors claim that doesn’t mean L.A. has given up on trying to part ways with the 2017 NBA MVP.
The Lakers reportedly understand the team could hardly enjoy a fresh start after a disastrous 2021-22 season if Westbrook remained on the roster.
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