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The Los Angeles Lakers hired Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as their new head coach on Friday to replace Frank Vogel, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ham is being signed to a four-year contract, per The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania.
Vogel was fired April 11 on the heels of a highly disappointing season that saw L.A. go just 33-49 and miss the playoffs despite having championship aspirations.
Injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis played a significant role in Los Angeles’ struggles, as did the inability to properly integrate Russell Westbrook into the lineup after the Lakers acquired him from the Washington Wizards, but it was Vogel who paid the price.
Vogel was hired prior to the 2019-20 season after the Lakers missed the playoffs in six straight seasons with Mike D’Antoni, Byron Scott and Luke Walton at the helm.
The decision paid immediate dividends, as Vogel guided James, Davis and Co. to a 52-19 record and an NBA championship, which was the franchise’s first since 2010.
Winning a title created even bigger expectations, though, and the Lakers didn’t come close to meeting them over the past two seasons.
L.A. needed to go through the postseason play-in tournament to make the playoffs in 2020-21 after going 42-30 during the regular season, and it fell to the eventual Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.
A first-round exit put Vogel on notice, and there was no chance of him sticking around when the Lakers were unable to make the play-in tournament in 2021-22.
While the Lakers were a flawed team this past season even when James and Davis were healthy, they remained an attractive option for prospective coaching candidates.
The duo of LeBron and AD can still achieve great things with the right supporting cast and coaching, plus the unmistakable aura of the Lakers still exists.
In an effort to bounce back from last season’s massive disappointment, the Lakers are somewhat surprisingly turning to someone with no prior NBA head coaching experience.
Ham first became an assistant coach at the NBA level with the Lakers from 2011 to 2013 before stints with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Ham played a role in the Bucks winning a championship at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season as well.
Going with someone who isn’t firmly established as an NBA head coach is a risk on the Lakers’ part, but since Ham spent eight seasons as an NBA player and won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004, it shouldn’t take him long to earn the respect of James, Davis and Co.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism