“Deepening Disconnect” Between Darvin Ham, Lakers Players

Darvin Ham‘s frequent lineup changes have led to a “deepening disconnect” between the Lakers coach and his players, according to Shams Charania and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Six sources with direct knowledge of the situation spoke to the authors about a “disjointedness” that has arisen as Ham has adjusted roles of various players to try to shake the team out of its current slide. L.A. is 3-9 since winning the in-season tournament and has fallen to 10th in the West with a 17-18 record.

Ham used his 10th different starting lineup of the season in Wednesday night’s loss to Miami, making Austin Reaves a starter again in place of the injured Rui Hachimura. Sources tell Charania and Buha that the changes have led to “a fluctuating rhythm” for several players. The authors add that the adjustments have prevented the team from establishing any continuity or determining its best lineup combinations.

After Wednesday’s game, Ham said injury problems are responsible for his frequent changes. Cam Reddish has been in and out of the lineup due to a groin issue, Hachimura is sidelined with a Grade 1 left calf strain and D’Angelo Russell sat out his second straight game with a bruised tailbone.

Ham also suggested that the Heat, who were playing without Jimmy Butler, were in a better position than the Lakers.

“I think the multiple (rotation players) are more impactful than … if you lose one of your big dogs, you’re going to figure out how to try and manage without them,” Ham said. “… And when you have your key role players, your key rotation players – this guy misses three or four. This guy misses three or four. And they’re happening one right after another, that’s what makes it difficult. … We’ve got to figure it out. I’m disappointed, but I’ll be damned if I get discouraged.”

L.A. held a team meeting after Wednesday’s loss, Charania and Buha add, and many of the players were gone by the time the media were admitted to the locker room. Among those who talked to reporters, Reaves and Anthony Davis both emphasized that injuries are no excuse for losing, which the authors note is part of the disconnect between Ham and his players.

Ham has two full seasons beyond this one remaining on his four-year contract, so the Lakers will likely be reluctant to make a coaching change. He has also shown an ability to overcome adversity, leading the team to the Western Conference Finals after a 2-10 start to last season. However, Charania and Buha write that “time is of the essence” for L.A. to start winning and “patience is beginning to run thin.”

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