Lakers Expect to Make Splash by Hiring Controversial 4-Time NBA All-Star: Report

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

Getty Lakers GM Rob Pelinka

Darvin Ham appears to be on the verge of making his first move to fill out his Los Angeles Lakers coaching staff with Rasheed Wallace joining him as an assistant in L.A. The Athletic’s Shams Charania initially reported that Wallace had “agreed on a deal” to be part of Ham’s new Lakers coaching staff before backtracking on the status of the contract.

“Sources: Four-time NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace has agreed on a deal to be an assistant coach for the Lakers under new head coach Darvin Ham,” Charania tweeted on June 6, 2022. “Both were teammates in Detroit and part of the 2004 title team. Memphis‘ Penny Hardaway hinted today Wallace may join Ham in LA.”

Charania later clarified that Wallace and the Lakers had “yet to [reach] a formal contract stage.”

“For further context: Wallace was recently identified as a candidate for Ham’s staff,” Charania added. “The two sides have not yet reached a formal contract stage.”

As an NBA player, Wallace consistently drew the ire of officials which results in league records for the most career ejections (29) along with the most technical fouls in a season (41) in 2000-01. Yet, Wallace has utilized his four-time NBA All-Star career to become a respected coach, starting at the high school level before joining Penny Hardaway as an assistant at the University of Memphis.

The news comes after Memphis News’ Jason Munz reported that Hardaway revealed that Wallace was “likely headed” to the Lakers.

“I asked Penny Hardaway this morning about Rasheed Wallace’s status,” Munz tweeted on June 6. “He said Rasheed is likely headed to LA to be part of Darvin Ham’s staff.”

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Wallace Moved From an Assistant to a ‘Consultant’s Role’ at Memphis

Ham addressed the Wallace rumors during his June 6 introductory press conference emphasizing that nothing had been finalized. The Lakers coach described the situation as “fluid” but admitted Wallace was on the list of potential candidates he is considering to fill out his staff.

Wallace began as an assistant coach at Memphis, but the former NBA big man finished the 2021-22 season in a “consultant’s role.” Hardaway cited Wallace’s health as the main reason for the move.

“Penny Hardaway says assistant coach Rasheed Wallace will not return in an in-person capacity ‘right now,'” Munz detailed in a series of January 19 tweets. “’Consultant’s role,’ Penny says. …Penny didn’t close the door on Rasheed possibly returning in-person down the road. Says Rasheed is ‘still a coach.’ But said his in-person absence is a mutual decision based on ‘health and safety’ concerns.”

Wallace on His ‘Hot Head’ Reputation: ‘They Already See It’s Not Me’

While he was still the head coach at Charles E. Jordan High School, Wallace spoke about his transition to coaching during a September 10, 2021 interview on Hardaway’s “Two Cents Podcast.” Wallace admitted he has had to shed his “hot head” reputation that followed him during his playing career.

“Yeah they do [know about my NBA career] and mainly the techs, mainly the techs,” Wallace explained. “But no they themselves, they see that perception that everyone thought of me, they already see it’s not me. And their parents, they see us now, I’m not the hot head who a lot of these papers and media said I was. That’s when I was at work, that’s different when you were at work. Now, that life, that part of my life is over. It’s a new chapter, so I love coaching, being able to go to Nike camps across the country to help coach the young fellas. It’s like, I get a kick out of it.”

Wallace brings with him an impressive resume including being a four-time All-Star, former NBA champion and member of the All-Rookie team in 1995-96. The legendary big man averaged 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and one steal while shooting 46.7% from the field during his 16 NBA seasons.