Lakers Notes: Ham, Westbrook, Davis, LeBron

Darvin Ham provides the Lakers with everything they were looking for in their coaching search, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Instead of going with a flashier name, L.A. opted for a respected assistant in Ham, who will be the team’s sixth head coach in the past 11 years.

The Lakers wanted someone who had worked for the team, as Ham did as an assistant coach from 2011-13, who had won a title and who had experience coaching star players. Ham checked those boxes, along with being a former player, having a strong personality and working under respected coaches such as Gregg Popovich and Mike Budenholzer.

Former coach Frank Vogel reportedly encountered resistance in the locker room this season, but an unidentified league executive told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports that shouldn’t be a problem for Ham.

“If you look around the league now, the coaches who are having successes — Steve Kerr, Monty Williams, Willie Green — [not only have] excellent knowledge but an ability to connect and hold [players] accountable,” the executive said. “(Ham) has a personable blend of that. A strong individual. He can garner respect from his players. I like it.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • The organization’s poor treatment of Vogel may have discouraged a few coaches under contract who might otherwise have been interested in the job, such as Nick Nurse, Quin Snyder and Doc Rivers, Buha suggests in the same piece. Buha points out that L.A. gave Vogel a low offer when he was hired, only added one year to his contract after he won a title in 2020 and leaked a report of his firing immediately after the final game of the season.
  • With the team reportedly unwilling to part with a first-round pick to find a taker for Russell Westbrook, one of Ham’s first challenges will be figuring out how to manage the enigmatic guard, observes Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link). Westbrook is most effective when surrounded by shooters, so Pelton believes Anthony Davis will see more time at center next season. Pelton also expects Ham to try to change the way Westbrook is used, employing him as a screener more often than a spot-up shooter.
  • Pelton believes another priority will be a load management plan for LeBron James, who will turn 38 next season. James missed 26 games this year, but averaged 37.2 minutes when he did play, his highest figure since the 2016/17 season.
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