Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Los Angeles' Offseason PlansMay 2, 2022
Lakers Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Los Angeles' Offseason Plans
For just the second time since 2006, LeBron James isn't playing in the NBA playoffs. That means change is coming for the Los Angeles Lakers.
With LeBron tweeting that he'll never miss the playoffs again, any fondness for an extended vacation appears unlikely.
Not content with chalking this season up to injury woes (e.g. Anthony Davis missing 42 games), the "Lake Show" have already parted ways with head coach Frank Vogel. Possible replacements have therefore become the talk around (tinsel) town, alongside undercurrent murmurings about Russell Westbrook's future with the organization.
With ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting that the Lakers will be interviewing coaching candidates in batches of "two or three," the first front-runners seem to have emerged: Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham and Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder.
Ham Granted Permission to Interview with the Lakers
According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, Ham has been given the green light to speak with the Lakers. The nine-year NBA veteran was an assistant coach with the team from 2011-13, before moving to the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
That familiarity with the Lakers franchise is likely welcome, but the 48-year-old's success supporting Mike Budenholzer from Atlanta to Milwaukee remains his true selling point.
Since 2013, Budenholzer and Ham's teams have made the playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons, culminating in last year's NBA championship win for the Bucks.
For a team as concerned with getting back into the playoffs as L.A., Ham's proximity to postseason success is probably of interest.
An NBA champion as a player with the Detroit Pistons and as an assistant coach with the Bucks, Ham does has an impressive resume. The interview will be the front office's opportunity to determine if he can continue that run of form at the head of the table.
Unclear If Snyder Wants to be Rescued by LA
The Utah Jazz have now made the playoffs in six consecutive seasons but have not gone past the conference semifinals once in that time. As a cherry on top of this sundae of disappointment, this season's postseason exit seemed the most dysfunctional of them all.
Despite Luka Doncic only playing three games, the Jazz lost their series to the Dallas Mavericks 2-4. Joe Ingles is gone and the team's star tandem, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, look like crewmates begrudgingly trying to keep a shipwreck afloat.
The eye test says it's an ugly situation in Utah, the fact that Mitchell averages just 2.3 passes per game to Gobert compounds that, and the season ending with an ugly travel feels like a fitting end to the saga.
However, NBA insider Marc Stein reported that while the Lakers are interested in Snyder, the Utah coach may not reciprocate those sentiments.
Like Ham, Snyder used to be an assistant coach with L.A. and has had success reaching the playoffs as a coach (although, unlike Ham, he has the badge of doing so as a head coach).
Stein suggested things are still up in the air, but there remains "skepticism" Snyder is keen on leaving his position of influence for the Lakers' muddied spheres of power.
LeBron's Influence Blamed for the Westbrook Conundrum
Speaking of spheres of power, it seems the "LeGM" memes have found a backbone in the real world.
The Lakers traded their depth for Russell Westbrook in 2021, the experiment failed and now the "front office is internally blaming pressure from Klutch Sports Group (representing both James and Davis) for Westbrook," per Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus.
For the vacationing Lakers and Westbrook alike, this past season was a forgettable one. Per 36 minutes, he averaged his fewest points since 2010, his second-fewest assists since 2012 and his second-fewest assists since 2014.
Los Angeles needs a new coach, but the team also needs to figure out what to do with the 33-year-old and the $47 million he's owed next season.
During his 2022 exit interview, Davis said he and LeBron will "reevaluate in the offseason," painting a picture of them "upstairs" making decisions.
If the reports of Klutch blame are true, the L.A. front office may simply think of Davis and LeBron's reevaluations as an attempt to clean up a mess they created.
Regardless, it's clear that Westbrook's position on the roster is, and will continue to be, a debated subject this offseason.