Darvin Ham

Pacific Notes: Looney, Payton, Iguodala, Ham, Stotts

Warriors center Kevon Looney, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, continues to pump up his value. Looney, who grabbed 22 rebounds in the clinching win over Memphis, delivered one of the top performances of his career during Golden State’s Game 2 comeback against Dallas on Friday night.

He had 21 points, 12 rebounds and no turnovers in 32 minutes while holding whoever he was guarding, including Luka Doncic, to 1-for-11 shooting, ESPN’s Kendra Andrews notes.

“Playing center for the Warriors, it’s a different type of job from other teams,” Looney said. “A lot of the scoring and stuff, we don’t really need us to do. It’s a lot of screen setting and a lot of playmaking and doing different things. For me to have a game like that is cool.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • It doesn’t seem as if the Warriors’ Gary Payton II or Andre Iguodala will play in the Western Conference Finals, though both are making “progress,” the team’s PR department tweets. Recovering from a left elbow fracture, Payton has started to do light individual on-court activities and will be reevaluated in one week. Iguodala, who has missed nine games due to a disc injury in his neck, is also doing light individual on-court activities along with physical therapy and weight room training. His status will be updated when he rejoins team practices.
  • An Athletic report on Friday suggested that Bucks assistant Darvin Ham has emerged as the top candidate for the Lakers’ head coaching job. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha believes Ham is the right choice, stating Ham is long overdue for an opportunity to be a head coach. He also has ties to the organization as a former assistant coach there, a championship pedigree and is well-respected by players, Buha adds.
  • The Orange County Register’s Kyle Goon takes a look at the three finalists for the Lakers’ job, a list that includes Kenny Atkinson and Terry Stotts. In Stotts’ case, Goon believes that he’s the most likely to find ways to make Russell Westbrook more effective but also notes that Stotts’ teams often flame out early in the postseason.

Darvin Ham Leading Candidate To Become New Lakers Coach?

Sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic that Bucks assistant Darvin Ham has made the “strongest impression” on Lakers brass thus far in interviews, and appears to be the leading candidate for the head coaching job.

As we relayed earlier today, Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and former Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts are reportedly finalists for the position.

Los Angeles’ leadership is looking for a coach “who can command respect and authority from the locker room” while maintaining a strong voice and presence in order to manage the differing personalities throughout team’s roster. Ham’s “no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players” has impressed the Lakers to this point, according to Charania and Amick.

They aren’t listed as finalists, but Bucks assistant Charles Lee and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin haven’t been eliminated from consideration yet. However, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson is no longer a candidate, per The Athletic’s duo.

Here’s more on the Lakers’ coaching search, courtesy of Charania and Amick:

  • Owner Jeanie Buss will meet the finalists during their in-person interviews, which will occur soon. She has not been involved in the process to this point.
  • The team’s search committee is headed by VP of basketball operations and GM Rob Pelinka, and it will make the final decision on who’s hired. Buss plans to defer to the committee’s recommendation. Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson, who are reportedly advising Buss despite not having official roles, are not part of the search committee. LeBron James isn’t on it either — only Lakers officials are.
  • After a disappointing season and lots of turmoil surrounding the franchise over the past few years, including the poorly executed firing of former head coach Frank Vogel, Buss “is determined to assuage any and all of the finalists’ concerns about the organization” as the team concludes its search, says Charania and Amick. She plans to deliver a message centered on providing the necessary resources and support for the Lakers to be successful going forward.
  • The team is still operating as though Russell Westbrook will be on the roster next season, which is why the coaching candidates have been asked how they’d use him. Assuming the Lakers are unable to find a trade for Westbrook, which would undoubtedly be difficult given his enormous ($47MM) player option and declining play, releasing him isn’t considered a viable alternative, nor is having him away from the team, like the Rockets did with John Wall this past season, per Charania and Amick.
  • However, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that he remains skeptical Westbrook will be on the roster in 2022/23. Stein notes that while the team is reluctant to part with future first-round picks to grease the wheels on a Westbrook deal, creating a “fresh-start atmosphere” for next season will be very difficult if he’s still on the Lakers.

Ham, Stotts, Atkinson Are Finalists For Lakers’ Coaching Job

Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts have advanced to the final round of interviews for the Lakers‘ head coaching job, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Former Nets coach and current Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson is also among the Lakers’ finalists, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who says the next round of meetings is expected to occur in person in Los Angeles.

Charania doesn’t definitively state that the Lakers have eliminated all but those three candidates, but his wording suggests that’s the case. Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, Bucks assistant Charles Lee, and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson were among the other candidates who reportedly interviewed with L.A.

Ham, a veteran assistant on Mike Budenholzer‘s staff in Milwaukee, is said to be a “serious candidate” for the Hornets’ head coaching vacancy as well. Ham has received consideration from multiple teams with head coaching openings in recent years and interviewed with Sacramento before the Kings hired Mike Brown.

Stotts, who is also in the mix for the Charlotte job, spent 10 years in Portland before he and the organization reached a mutual agreement to part ways after the end of the 2020/21 season. Stotts ranks second on the Blazers’ all-time wins list with 402 and previously had brief head coaching stints in Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Atkinson led the Nets to 118-190 (.383) record from 2016-20, though that underwhelming mark was due in large part to the fact that he took over a rebuilding team. He took Brooklyn to the playoffs in 2019, but was let go the following season after the team added Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Like the Lakers’ other two finalists, he is believed to still be a contender for the Hornets’ job.

The Lakers are seeking a head coach who can lead the team back to the postseason – and, ideally, title contention – following a disappointing 2021/22 campaign that resulted in Frank Vogel‘s ouster.

Darvin Ham “Serious Candidate” For Hornets’ Coaching Job; Terry Stotts To Interview

Bucks assistant Darvin Ham will get a second interview with the Hornets for their head coaching vacancy and has become a serious candidate for the position, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts will also interview this week, sources tell Charania (Twitter link).

Ham, 48, has been an assistant in Milwaukee since 2018 and coached under Mike Budeholzer in Atlanta as well. He is a perennial candidate for open head coaching jobs and interviewed for the Kings’ position that ultimately went to Mike Brown.

Stotts, 64, spent 10 years in Portland before he and the organization reached a mutual agreement to part ways after the end of last season. He ranks second on the Blazers’ all-time wins list with 402.

A recent Substack report by Marc Stein indicates that Mike D’Antoni, currently serving as a coaching advisor with the Pelicans, is in “a strong position” to be Charlotte’s next head coach. Even though defensive lapses were one factor that led to James Borrego‘s dismissal, the front office is seeking a veteran head coach and is intrigued by what LaMelo Ball could do as the focal point of D’Antoni’s offense.

Stein notes that D’Antoni has a strong relationship with Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak, who previously hired him with the Lakers. Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com also identified D’Antoni as the frontrunner for the job last week.

Charlotte has cast a wide net in its search for Borrego’s replacement, with former Lakers coach Frank Vogel the most recent big name to interview. The team has also reportedly talked to Kenny AtkinsonSean SweeneyCharles Lee, and David Vanterpool.

You can follow all the latest coaching rumors in our head coaching search tracker.

Hornets Notes: Hayward, Bridges, Coaching Search, Harrell, Washington

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward is a name to watch in the trade market, though injuries limit his value, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, who conducted a podcast with Charlotte Observer beat reporter Rod Boone.

Hayward is regarded as a “neutral asset” that the Hornets can move. However, it’s unlikely they’ll benefit much in terms of cap space if they deal the veteran, who has two years and $61.5MM remaining on his contract. One executive told Scotto they might be able to move him for two players making around $10-15MM apiece.

The Pacers are an unlikely destination after trading away Domantas Sabonis and building around younger pieces.

More highlights from the podcast:

  • Both Scotto and Boone anticipate Miles Bridges will get $25MM or more annually in restricted free agency. Scotto sees Bridges as being coveted due to his status as a young, two-way, big wing. The Trail Blazers could pursue him if they can’t trade for Jerami Grant and teams with cap space, like the Pistons, could also be a factor. Boone believes he’ll return to the Hornets due to unfinished business with an improving team. The fact that he’s close with LaMelo Ball also works in Charlotte’s favor.
  • Neither Scotto nor Boone believe Mike D’Antoni is a viable option in the search for a head coach. Former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney are names to watch there. However, D’Antoni could wind up in Philadelphia if the Sixers let Doc Rivers go, according to Scotto.
  • Free agent Montrezl Harrell generally enjoyed playing with Charlotte this season and could return to the Hornets, depending upon the coaching hire. Harrell probably wouldn’t command more than the taxpayer mid-level on the open market, according to Scotto.
  • P.J. Washington, who is extension-eligible, is a movable piece and his name will pop up in trade rumors.

And-Ones: Coaching Candidates, Kirkwood, Garuba, Embiid

Suns assistant Kevin Young, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Celtics assistant Will Hardy, Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic, Heat assistants Chris Quinn and Malik Allen, and Warriors assistants Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson are among the assistants around the NBA who are viewed as potential head coaching candidates by league insiders, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz (Insider-only link).

A number of the names on Arnovitz’s list have been linked to one or more of the NBA’s three current head coaching openings. Ham and Brown, for instance, all believed to be under consideration by all three of the Hornets, Lakers, and Kings.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Harvard senior guard Noah Kirkwood, who declared for the 2022 NBA draft as an early entrant, has decided to remain in the draft and go pro rather than using his final year of college eligibility, according to agent Ronnie Zeidel (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports).
  • Rockets forward/center Usman Garuba said in an interview with Spanish outlet AS.com that he’s committed to representing Spain at this year’s EuroBasket competition, as Eurohoops relays.
  • In an intriguing bit of international basketball news, an RMC Sport report indicates that Sixers center Joel Embiid is exploring the possibility of obtaining French citizenship and representing France in future international events. Embiid was born in Cameroon, but has family from France and has never suited up for the Cameroonian national team.

Hornets To Interview D’Antoni, Atkinson, Ham, Sweeney

The Hornets have begun the initial interview process for their head coaching vacancy, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), who states that the team’s initial list includes former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, current Warriors assistant and former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, Bucks lead assistant Darvin Ham, and Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney.

As Wojnarowski observes (Twitter link), D’Antoni worked with Hornets president of basketball operations and general manager Mitch Kupchak while the two were with the Lakers, and they “had a good working relationship.” D’Antoni holds 16 seasons worth of head coaching experience with Denver, Phoenix, New York, Los Angeles and Houston, compiling a regular season record of 672-527.

The 70-year-old interviewed for the Kings’ head coaching job, but isn’t a finalist. D’Antoni is renowned for his offensive acumen and helped get the best from a couple of elite offensive players in Steve Nash and James Harden. Clearly, Charlotte thinks he might help with LaMelo Ball‘s development.

Atkinson was an assistant with the Knicks and Hawks prior to becoming Brooklyn’s head coach from 2016-20, where he compiled a 118-190 record. Those numbers are a bit deceiving, because he inherited a young, flawed roster that he helped lead to the playoffs in his third year at the helm. He has been an assistant with the Clippers and the Warriors the past two seasons.

Ham has been very busy recently. In addition to serving as Mike Budenholzer‘s top assistant with the Bucks as they try to defend their title, Ham has also interviewed for the lead coaching jobs in Sacramento and Los Angeles. Ham has been an NBA assistant for 11 years; he started with the Lakers for a couple seasons prior to working under Budenholzer in Atlanta and now Milwaukee.

Sweeney is in his ninth season as an assistant coach, having spent time with Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Detroit and now Dallas. He has worked under Mavs head coach Jason Kidd with the Nets, Bucks and Mavs.

Sweeney has been credited with leading the team’s defensive turnaround — after ranking 21st in defensive rating last season, Dallas was seventh this season. The Mavs went 3-1 with Sweeney serving as acting head coach when Kidd was in the health and safety protocols back in January.

Jackson, Brown, Clifford Are Finalists For Kings’ Coaching Job

5:36pm: Jackson, Brown and Clifford are the three finalists for the job and will all have in-person meetings with the Kings’ front office, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320.

The other four candidates — Mike D’AntoniCeltics assistant Will Hardy and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee — are no longer under consideration.

4:19pm: ABC/ESPN announcer Mark Jackson is a finalist to become the next head coach of the Kings, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic, who adds that general manager Monte McNair has started notifying the candidates who will receive in-person interviews.

Warriors assistant Mike Brown and Nets consultant Steve Clifford are finalists as well, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Jackson, who is among the candidates that LeBron James reportedly wants the Lakers to consider, hasn’t coached since the 2013/14 season and is currently employed as an ABC/ESPN broadcaster. He compiled a 121-109 record in three seasons with the Warriors and reached the playoffs twice.

Brown has been an assistant on Steve Kerr‘s staff since the 2016/17 season. He has a 347-216 record as a head coach with the Cavaliers and Lakers and was named Coach of the Year in 2009.

Clifford spent three years as head coach of the Magic before he and the team decided to part ways last summer. He also served five seasons as head coach in Charlotte and has a career record of 292-345.

Lakers To Interview Darvin Ham For Head Coaching Job

The Lakers have requested permission to interview Bucks lead assistant Darvin Ham for their open head coaching position, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times confirms Charania’s report, citing a person close to the situation who says the team has been granted permission to interview Ham.

Ham started his NBA career as a player, appearing in 417 games from 1996-2005 and winning a championship as a bit player for the Pistons in 2004. As Bill Oram and Eric Nehm of The Athletic note, Ham first made the transition to coaching in the G League as an assistant, and later as a general manager and head coach.

The 48-year-old has ties to the Lakers organization, as his first role as an NBA assistant coach came with L.A. from 2011-2013. Ham has spent the last nine seasons working under head coach Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and now Milwaukee, winning a title with the Bucks last season.

Ham was considered a top candidate to become the Wizards’ new head coach last July, but Washington ultimately decided to hire Wes Unseld Jr. instead. The Kings also intend to interview Ham for their head coaching job, which is unfilled after Sacramento parted ways with interim head coach Alvin Gentry earlier this month.

There have been rumors that the Lakers are interested in Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, but he’s still under contract with Utah. Ham is the first coach to be officially linked to the vacancy in Los Angeles.

Kings To Interview Mike D’Antoni, Mark Jackson, Others

The Kings will interview former NBA head coaches Mike D’Antoni and Mark Jackson for their open head coaching position, sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Sacramento has also received permission to interview former coaches Mike Brown and Steve Clifford, as well as Celtics assistant Will Hardy and Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Of the former head coaches, D’Antoni currently serves as an advisor to Pelicans head coach Willie Green, Jackson is an ABC/ESPN broadcaster, Brown is an assistant with the Warriors, and Clifford is a consultant for the Nets.

The Kings have done their homework on a wide range of candidates and narrowed their list down to a smaller group, according to Charania and Amick, though the above list of candidates isn’t necessarily complete, tweets Sean Cunningham of ABC10 in Sacramento.

The Kings will begin conducting virtual interviews with candidates next week, according to James Ham of ESPN 1320, who tweets that in-person meetings will take place after that first round of Zoom interviews.

Sacramento is in the market for a new head coach after firing Luke Walton near the start of the 2021/22 season and then opting not to retain his interim replacement, Alvin Gentry, last week.

When word first broke that the Kings weren’t bringing back Gentry, Wojnarowski said they would consider candidates who have previously turned lottery teams into playoff clubs. D’Antoni (Phoenix), Jackson (Golden State), Brown (Cleveland), and Clifford (Charlotte and Orlando) all technically fit that bill.

Ham, Lee, and Hardy don’t have head coaching experience, but have all interviewed for head coaching positions in recent years. Ham and Lee reportedly received consideration from multiple teams in 2021, while Hardy was in the mix for multiple jobs in 2020.