Despite being just two years removed from winning the 2020 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers fired their head coach Frank Vogel at the end of the season. In the last two seasons, the Lakers were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round in 2021 and failed to even qualify for the play-in tournament this season. And although the Lakers season was ransacked by injuries to key players in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the front office decided it was time for a change at head coach. With AD, LeBron, and Westbrook all locked in for next season, the Lakers have the most attractive head coaching vacancy on the market.
Per Shams Charania and Sam Amick of “The Athletic” the Lakers have narrowed their list of finalists for their coaching vacancy down to Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant, and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Celtics Legend, and Ex-Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Garnett isn’t impressed by the list of their head coaching finalists.
“Man are the Lakers serious? They not serious about trying to better the situation with the list of coaches,” Garnett said via his Instagram account on May 23 (h/t @LandonBuford). “[F*** outta here] They serious? Nah they not serious! They serious.”
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Lakers Describe Atkinson as ‘Tireless Worker’
Garnett played under Atkinson during his time with the Nets. Atkinson played a big part in them even becoming an attractive free agency destination for stars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons. So, he has experience in bringing teams back to glory like the Lakers desire to be. The Lakers brass describes Atkinson as a “sharp-minded” coach.
“Now, the final stage of the process will determine who secures the job. Among the final group, Stotts is known for his strong X’s and O’s, making the postseason in eight of nine seasons in Portland, while Atkinson has been described as a sharp mind and tireless worker,” Shams Charania and Sam Amick write per “The Athletic”.
Darvin Ham Viewed as Favorite to Land Lakers Job
Although Stotts and Atkinson have years of experience as head coaches, the current favorite to land the job does not have any head coaching experience at all. That would be Milwaukee Bucks assistant and former NBA player Darvin Ham.
“In terms of the Lakers’ preferences, sources say team officials have prioritized a coach who can command respect and authority from the locker room and who has a strong enough presence and voice to manage the varying roles and relationships across the roster. Those characteristics bode well for Ham’s candidacy,” Charania and Amick write.
“Throughout assistant, coaching stops with the Lakers, Hawks, and Bucks, Ham has been known for his no-nonsense style and ability to resonate with his players — attributes that have stood out in his communication with the Lakers thus far as well, sources said. Ham, who played in eight NBA seasons from 1996 to 2008, is the only former NBA player among the three finalists.”
The Lakers, like the Nets, will be looking for redemption after a disappointing 2022 season. It will be interesting to see if the two teams can eventually meet in the NBA Finals.