Lakers Rumors: Darvin Ham Has Made 'Strongest Impression' Among HC Candidates

Erin WalshMay 20, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 08: Acting head coach Darvin Ham of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during the second half of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on January 08, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

It appears Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham might be the front-runner for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job.

Ham has made the "strongest impression" among the finalists for the Lakers' head coaching gig, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania and Sam Amick:

"In terms of the Lakers' preferences, sources say team officials have prioritized a coach who can command respect and authority from the locker room and who has a strong enough presence and voice to manage the varying roles and relationships across the roster. Those characteristics bode well for Ham’s candidacy."

The other finalists include Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

The Athletic adds that Ham has been known throughout his coaching career for "his no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players." 

It's not necessarily surprising that the Lakers are looking for a coach with those attributes—Los Angeles is an incredibly difficult place to coach based on the spotlight alone. In addition, the team's next head coach will be leading a group that includes 37-year-old LeBron James and one that has questions about Russell Westbrook's fit with the team following a disappointing 2021-22 campaign. 

That said, Ham knows all about coaching in difficult situations, having served as an assistant for the Lakers from 2011 through 2013. He has also served as an assistant for the Atlanta Hawks and has been with the reigning champion Bucks since 2018. 

In Milwaukee, Ham has coached some of the NBA's biggest stars including Giannis Antetokounmpo. That experience should help him in coaching players like James, Westbrook and Anthony Davis.

In addition, Ham is the only candidate who has played in the NBA. He understands the challenges that players deal with, and that experience would be huge for a team that undoubtedly had its issues last year.

The Lakers' head coaching job will be particularly challenging as the team has little cap space to make improvements from the 2021-22 season. L.A. finished 11th in the Western Conference with a 33-49 record and struggled to build chemistry. If that continues, it could be another brutal year for the Purple and Gold. 

Ham is also a candidate for the Charlotte Hornets head coaching job, according to Charania. So, the Lakers are facing some opposition in their pursuit of the veteran assistant.