Darvin Ham's Changes to Lakers' Coaching Staff Necessary to Success amid Rumors

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2022

EL SEGUNDO, CA - JUNE 06: Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham converses during his introductory press conference on June 06, 2022, at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

For new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham, righting the ship for the embattled franchise requires swift and decisive actions, and one of the first moves on the agenda is apparently hitting the reset button on who'll be working alongside him behind the bench.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski, Ham informed assistants David Fizdale, Mike Penberthy and John Lucas III on Tuesday that their services will not be required for next season.

But not everyone from last year's coaching staff was given the pink slip.

Ham will reportedly keep assistant coaches Quinton Crawford and Phil Handy as he builds out his contingent holding clipboards.

"I like coaches that like to roll up their sleeves and are able to get out there," Ham said during his introductory news conference.

"Where I come from the last nine years, we did everything. We did player development. We did scouting. I had to step in as the head coach on a few occasions. But it was a team. It wasn't coordinators on either side of the ball. We all pitched in on all aspects of our team basketball offensively and defensively. So, I'm looking to build that similar type of staff."

To that end, the former player for the Detroit Pistons is also trying to hire former teammate Rasheed Wallace to join his staff.

The two were both a part of the Pistons' 2004 title team, and according to University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway, the pair had plans to work together as early as last year.

"That was the deal from the beginning," Hardaway told Jason Munz of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "If Darvin had gotten a job last year, Rasheed had already promised him that he was going to go with him. So, I’m thinking this year, with him getting the Lakers job, (Wallace) might still be going along with that process."

Wallace was an assistant for Hardaway this past season and was a member of Detroit's coaching staff in 2013-14 after he retired as a player.

According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, though, the two sides "have not yet reached a formal contract stage."

Ham added that Wallace is definitely a candidate and that it's a "fluid situation" that he's working with Lakers' vice president of operations Rob Pelinka to bring to fruition.

Wallace was a four-time NBA All-Star in his playing career and garnered quite the reputation for getting technical fouls.

His "ball don't lie" refrain became infamous during that time, and the phrase has taken on a life of its own since then.

But he's also known for his basketball mind, which helped the Bad Boys win another title over the Lakers 18 years ago.

That's what former Laker Metta Sandiford-Artest wants Laker Nation to focus on.

"I think Rasheed is brilliant, smart," Sandiford-Artest told TMZ. "As good as it's going to come when you talk about a basketball brain."

Outside of what happens on the bench, the Lakers front office was concerned about how Ham would utilize Russell Westbrook to help him have the kind of bounce-back year that makes this past season a distant memory.

For his part, at the least, Wallace is in agreement with Ham that Westbrook is an elite player.

He made that known while the former MVP was playing for the Washington Wizards.

"Russ is the best player in the NBA right now," Wallace said while on ESPN's The Jump.

Lakers fans will have to wait and see if Wallace does actually sign a contract to join Ham in L.A., but they at least know that their new head coach has the freedom to pick his deputies and, from the looks of it, steer the ship in the direction he thinks it should go.