The Los Angeles Lakers have their Frank Vogel replacement. Now, they just have to figure out what to do with their roster.
The Lakers hired Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham to be their next head coach on Friday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Lakers star LeBron James soon confirmed the hire, welcoming the coach he no doubt signed off on hiring.
So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 #LakeShow💜💛
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 28, 2022
The Lakers reportedly had their search down to Ham, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, who is currently working as an assistant for the Golden State Warriors.
Los Angeles opted to go with the candidate without NBA head coaching experience, but a solid resume nonetheless.
Ham has spent the last decade as an NBA assistant coach, starting out with the Lakers under Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni. In 2013, he joined the Atlanta Hawks and head coach Mike Budenholzer, whom he followed to the Bucks in 2018. He also worked as a head coach for the G League New Mexico Thunderbirds.
The 48-year-old had emerged as a legitimate head coaching candidate in recent years, especially after he helped lead the Bucks to last season's NBA championship. He also had a brief stint as interim head coach this season when Budenholzer tested positive for COVID-19.
Plenty for Darvin Ham to figure out with the Lakers
Ham didn't exactly take the easy route for his first head coaching job.
The Lakers are coming off a disastrous 33-49 season in which they didn't even make the Western Conference play-in tournament. While the team would like you to believe Vogel was the main problem, they had several issues all the way up to the core of their roster.
The team was the oldest in the NBA and played like it, completely failed to figure out how to use Russell Westbrook and lost James and Anthony Davis for significant chunks of the season. Now, they enter the offseason likely hoping to trade Westbrook, even if they did ask coaching candidates how they would use the former MVP.
It all adds up to a massive undertaking for a first-year head coach. Ham will either be asked to win with a core that did not come close to winning last season or asked to turn an overhauled roster into a contender in Year 1. If it goes south, James can enter free agency next offseason.