Lakers Rumors: Kenny Atkinson, Terry Stotts, Darvin Ham Finalists for Head Coach Job

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 20, 2022

DENVER, CO - MAY 24: Head Coach, Terry Stotts of the Portland Trail Blazers reacts to a play during the game against the Denver Nuggets during Round 2, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2021 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly moving closer to hiring a new head coach to replace the fired Frank Vogel.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts are among those who made the final round of interviews for the position.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson is also a finalist.

The Lakers position comes with the bright spotlight of Los Angeles and the opportunity to coach one of the all-time greats in LeBron James.

Yet it also figures to be challenging, with the King set to turn 38 years old in December, questions about whether Russell Westbrook will even be with the team to start the 2022-23 campaign, concerns about Anthony Davis' health and the urgency to bounce back from a 33-49 season.

Ham is familiar with that Los Angeles pressure, considering he was a Lakers assistant coach in 2011-12 and 2012-13. He then joined the Atlanta Hawks for five seasons and has been with Milwaukee the past four campaigns.

He helped lead the Bucks to the 2020-2021 NBA title and is accustomed to coaching one of the league's biggest stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo. That figures to help him adjust to James' game, and he can fall back on his own playing experience with the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, Bucks, Hawks and Detroit Pistons.

Stotts has plenty of experience as well.

He was an assistant coach for the Seattle SuperSonics, Bucks, Hawks, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Mavericks and was notably the head coach for Atlanta, Milwaukee and Portland. The Trail Blazers fired him following the 2020-21 campaign even though they made the playoffs in eight of his nine seasons.

Portland could never quite get over the hump in the postseason with Stotts as head coach and Damian Lillard as its star player, advancing to the Western Conference Finals just once in that span, when the team lost in a sweep to the Golden State Warriors in 2019.

Still, Stotts is a playoff-tested veteran coach who helped establish the Trail Blazers as a contender.

Atkinson is gaining more playoff experience at the moment after helping lead the Warriors to the Western Conference Finals, where they are up 1-0 on the Dallas Mavericks. He has also been on the staffs of the New York Knicks, Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers and was the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-17 through 2019-20.

While he made just one playoff appearance with the Nets, stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were sidelined with injuries at times and D'Angelo Russell was traded to Golden State during his tenure.