Lakers Rumors: Mike Budenholzer, Kenny Atkinson & More Join Tyronn Lue and JJ Redick As Head Coaching Candidates
Mike Budenholzer, Lakers
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers made the decision to part ways with head coach Darvin Ham on Friday, a change that had been brewing the last few days after the first round playoff exit.

It became clear in the middle of the season that Ham and the players on the roster weren’t seeing eye to eye, and his fate was sealed after not being able to compete with the Denver Nuggets once again.

Now that Ham is out, the Lakers will be searching for their seventh full-time head coach since Phil Jackson left in 2011. This will be the third head coach that Rob Pelinka will hire since taking over the front office in 2019.

While it will be a long process before the Lakers land on someone to be their next coach, some potential candidates are already starting to emerge. It was already reported that JJ Redick and Tyronn Lue will garner interest due to their relationships with LeBron James, and now Mike Budenholzer and Kenny Atkinson can be added to the list as well, per Jovan Buha and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

There is a natural inclination to target a replacement who possesses the qualities the previous head coach lacked. For the Lakers, that means finding someone who can command and hold the respect of the locker room, optimize lineups and the rotation, hold himself accountable publicly, and manage timeouts and challenges properly.

Three candidates have emerged as early options, according to multiple team sources:

Mike Budenholzer, the former Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks head coach

Kenny Atkinson, currently a Golden State Warriors assistant coach and formerly the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

JJ Redick, the ESPN broadcaster and prolific analyst who, among other things, co-hosts a podcast with James.

LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue would immediately become another candidate if he’s fired by the Clippers after their potential first-round exit. Charles Lee, a Boston Celtics assistant coach who worked under Budenholzer with the Bucks and Hawks, is also an option, league sources told The Athletic.

It’s reasonable to think that the Lakers will want a head coach with experience that can come in and be successful right away. There are some quality up-and-coming assistants worthy of a look as well though and David Adelman and Micah Nori could be two names to watch for, per Dan Woike of the L.A. Times:

In addition to Atkinson and Stotts, Denver assistant coach David Adelman and Minnesota assistant coach Micah Nori are both highly regarded inside the Lakers’ organization, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly.

The Lakers interviewed 10-plus candidates in their last head coaching search that led them to Ham, including some of the names listed above, so the same can be expected this time around.

Given James’ uncertainty with the ability to opt out this offseason, the Lakers will likely consult him to see who his choice would be before making a decision.

Draymond Green defends former Lakers head coach Darvin Ham

Even despite all the reports that came out regarding the disconnect between Darvin Ham and his players, he still has some defenders with Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green being among them.

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