Lakers Fire Coach Darvin Ham After 2 Seasons, First-Round Exit

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Lakers Fire Coach Darvin Ham After 2 Seasons, First-Round Exit

The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham on Friday, following the team’s first-round series loss to the Denver Nuggets. Ham was 90-74 (.549) with a Western Conference finals berth, two play-in victories, and an in-season title.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka informed Ham of the decision in a phone call a short time ago, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ham, who had two years remaining on his contract, is the first Lakers coach to make the playoffs and not return the following season since Phil Jackson in 2011, according to the Basketball-Reference database.

“We greatly appreciate Darvin Ham’s efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognize the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons including last year’s remarkable run to the Western Conference finals,” Rob Pelinka, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager, said in a statement.

“We all want to thank Darvin for this dedication and positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season. The organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-caliber basketball to Lakers fans around the world.”

The 2022-23 Lakers started off 2-10 in Ham’s first season, then Pelinka overhauled the roster in a series of moves. Los Angeles traded Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz and added D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Rui Hachimura to aid LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Austin Reaves.

Darvin Ham went 90-74 with two postseason appearances, 9-12 in playoffs as Los Angeles Lakers coach

Last season’s Lakers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in tournament to earn the No. 7 seed and went on to upset the No. 2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors before losing to the top-seeded Nuggets.

As for this season’s Lakers, the team started 3-5 and later struggled during a 4-11 stretch following the in-season tournament championship. By mid-January, they ranked 13th in the Western Conference standings.

Los Angeles bounced back to finish the season 23-10, the fifth-best record in the league from Feb. 1 through mid-April. During the play-in tournament, the Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans to once again earn the No. 7 seed.

It was a disappointing season for one other logical reason: James (71 games) and Davis (76 games) played their most combined games since becoming teammates in 2018.

In the Lakers’ first-round series loss to Denver, they failed to maintain a double-digit lead in all four of their losses, including a 20-point second-half lead in Game 2.

“It’s been a hell of a two years … I’ll tell you that,” Ham said Monday after L.A. was eliminated. “Sitting in this seat, it’s been a hell of a two years. A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately, you want to win that ultimate prize.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of our crew despite everything that happened. Obviously, the series didn’t go in our favor, didn’t start the way we wanted it to, but to win that one at home, our guys showed a lot of guts and a lot of character.”

Ham was the Lakers’ 28th coach in franchise history.

Next-coach candidates include Mike Budenholzer, Kenny Atkinson, JJ Redick and, if he becomes available, Ty Lue, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.