Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Darvin Ham Rumors Cloud Lakers’ Play-in Fate

Apr 9, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham (left) and forward Rui Hachimura (28) react after the game in the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the Los Angeles Lakers gear up for another trip to the Play-in Tournament, it appears the fans aren’t the only ones dissatisfied with head coach Darvin Ham. According to Ashish Mathur of Hoops Wire, some players wanted Ham gone earlier this season.

Darvin Ham Rumors Cloud Lakers’ Play-in Fate

The Latest on Darvin Ham

Mathur reported that the players preferred assistant coach Phil Handy over Ham this season, so much so that they thought he could replace the second-year head coach:

A source told Hoops Wire that Lakers players wanted assistant coach Phil Handy to replace Ham earlier in the season. However, Los Angeles owner Jeanie Buss is a fan of Ham and she has never thought about firing him as coach, the source said.

Rui Hachimura and Anthony Davis were particularly critical of Ham, according to Mathur:

Hachimura is another player who trusts Handy over Ham, the source said. And Davis, one of the top defensive players in the NBA, has never been a fan of Ham’s drop coverage defensive tactic, the source said.

Meanwhile, although LeBron James has never publicly criticized Ham, his actions have spoken louder than his words.

Ham’s questionable decisions—from mismanaging rotations to finding the right lineup too late into the season—are a key factor in why LA has gone 45-35 this season. Instead of getting out of the Play-in, they moved from the ninth to the eighth seed before dropping to tenth. The Lakers will now have to win two Play-in games just to face the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

Implications for Ham and LA’s Future

If the Lakers’ season ends with an early trip to Cancun, there will be serious conversations regarding Ham’s future with the franchise. Mathur noted that players will be speaking to GM Rob Pelinka about Ham in their exit meetings.

In an offseason already riddled with decisions—which now includes who to draft in the first-round—the Lakers will need to critically address their needs this offseason. The head coaching situation should be priority number one. Ham’s unpopularity is evident everywhere but the top. Though the team’s brass is reluctant to let Ham go, perhaps these exit meetings and the result of this season will be enough to change their minds.

However, even if Darvin Ham is gone, the question immediately goes to his replacement, and the solution won’t come easy.

The Lakers could replace Ham with Handy like the Cavs did with Ty Lue and David Blatt, but that could be easier said than done. They could also turn to a top assistant from another team, one geared more towards tactics.

Regardless, the conversations of a “new head coach” will only begin if the Lakers move on from their current one. It took the Lakers a season and a half to figure out that the Russell Westbrook experiment failed. Two seasons is enough time to see that the Darvin Ham experiment should be over, too.


More Posts