The Los Angeles Lakers have officially hired former Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham to be their new head coach. The franchise went through a long process involving many different coaches before ultimately landing on Ham. The likes of Mark Jackson, Terry Stotts, and Kenny Atkinson were all mentioned as possibilities, but another big name mentioned early in the process was University of Michigan head coach Juwan Howard.
Howard has had some great success at his alma mater and was a longtime assistant with the Miami Heat prior to that, where he developed a great relationship with current Lakers superstar LeBron James. The Lakers made overtures on Howard, but he would decline the interview opportunity, choosing to remain at Michigan.
Had he chosen to speak with the Lakers and was interested in the job, however, it sounds as if he could have been a shoo-in for the position. According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, Howard was the Lakers preferred choice over any of their other options and the job was his if he wanted it:
The most interesting thing I’ve heard while we wait for Ham’s official introduction is that, according to the latest buzz in league coaching circles, Michigan’s Juwan Howard was the Lakers’ preferred candidate among the various coaches to whom they were linked who were under contract elsewhere and thus ultimately unavailable — ahead of Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Utah’s Quin Snyder.
The Lakers, I’m told, made such strong overtures to Howard that the implication was clear: The job was his if he wanted it. As covered here on May 2, Howard made it clear in turn throughout the Lakers’ 47-day search that — despite his long associations with both James and Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka — he had no interest in leaving behind the college game at Michigan and the opportunity to coach sons Jace and Jett next season.
As Stein noted, in addition to his relationship with LeBron, Howard was also a college teammate of Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka. But that simply was not enough to entice him to leave Michigan, where he has the opportunity to coach his sons, something very few coaches are able to do.
He also likely has much more job security at his alma mater than a Lakers franchise with the highest of expectations. Regardless, the Lakers have landed on their guy in Ham who has more than earned his opportunity to lead a team. Even if this is true and he wasn’t the Lakers’ first choice, that doesn’t mean he isn’t the right one.
Draymond Green praises new Lakers coach Darvin Ham
Players from around the NBA have been effusive in their praise of new Lakers coach Darvin Ham with so many witnessing the work he has put in to reach this point. The latest to speak on Ham was Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who hails from the same hometown of Saginaw, Michigan.
Green believes that Ham will bring a toughness to the Lakers and command a level of respect from the team that will ultimately bode well for them overall.
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