The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly fell short in their pursuit of Michigan's Juwan Howard to be their next head coach, but another candidate could benefit from that.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham shares some similarities with Howard that have some people believing that he's a favorite to land the position.
"I think Darvin Ham is a candidate to keep watching in this Lakers process," Wojnarowski reported on Monday's episode of NBA Today. "You know, you could see if you wanted to go after Juwan Howard and they did, you see how Darvin Ham, again, checks a lot of the boxes that Juwan might. And I think his candidacy is one to watch in L.A."
Ham is reportedly one of three finalists for the position, along with Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.
After spending two seasons as an assistant coach for the Lakers in 2011-13, Ham joined Mike Budenholzer's staff when he was hired as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. He accompanied Budenholzer to Milwaukee in 2018, helping coach the team to the NBA title in 2021.
The Athletic's Shams Charania and Sam Amick recently reported that Ham made the "strongest impression" out of all the candidates during the interview process.
"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," Charania and Amick stated. "Those characteristics bode well for Ham’s candidacy."
Los Angeles fired Frank Vogel after finishing the season 33-49 and falling short of the playoffs. The Lakers still have high expectations heading into next season, so finding the right coach to lead a star-studded roster is paramount this offseason.
While it looks like Ham has the inside track for the job, Los Angeles will face some competition for him. Charania reported that Ham is also a candidate for the Charlotte Hornets head coach position.