3 Lakers on Thin Ice Heading into the Playoffs

The 2023-24 NBA Playoffs are finally here and these three Los Angeles Lakers are skating right into the postseason on thin ice.
Head coach Darvin Ham is one of three Lakers on thin ice in the 2023-24 playoffs.
Head coach Darvin Ham is one of three Lakers on thin ice in the 2023-24 playoffs. / John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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After a regular season that was filled with ups and downs, the Los Angeles Lakers have finally arrived at the 2023-24 NBA playoffs. The Lakers face an uphill battle this postseason as the Western Conference's No. 8 seed, meaning their journey begins with a Play-In Tournament matchup against the No. 7 New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers are one of the NBA's most storied franchises, so it isn't surprising that they're facing a lot of pressure this postseason. In fact, some members of the team are facing more pressure than others as they skate into the playoff on the thinnest of ice.

With that in mind, here are three Lakers who are on thin ice ahead of the NBA playoffs.

1. HC Darvin Ham

Unless the Lakers go on a deep playoff run, there's a good chance that Darvin Ham's first season as Los Angeles' head coach could be the last.

Inconsistencies have plagued Ham's team throughout the 2023-24 season. The Lakers will look like contenders for one moment only to get knocked down a peg by getting stuck in a losing streak. The fact that they're only a Play-In team despite boasting LeBron James and Anthony Davis — two of the league's best players — is nothing short of embarrassing.

Even though anything can happen in the playoffs, Ham's coaching does little to inspire confidence. The 50-year-old HC's constant lineup tinkering is one of the reasons Los Angeles struggles to establish consistency. Ham just can't seem to figure out how many bigs/guards he wants to deploy or how the minutes should be divided up. It's been frustrating to watch because it isn't any issue that legitimate contenders (Nuggets, Celtics, etc.) have to deal with.

A failed postseason run from Ham also won't help to convince LeBron to re-sign with the Lakers this offseason. The four-time NBA MVP holds a player option this summer and could opt out as it's his only way to get a no-trade clause. If the team struggles in the playoffs and the Lakers hold on to Ham, "The King" could look elsewhere to finish his career with a more competent coach.

Another reason why Ham is in trouble is because it doesn't seem like the players are fans of him. Hoops Wire's Ashish Mathur reported earlier this month that the Lakers players wanted to replace Ham with assistant coach Phil Handy earlier in the season only for owner Jeanie Buss to shut things down.

Unless Ham can convince the players (and fans) that he's a legitimate NBA head coach with a solid playoff run, there's a decent chance that he'll be a one-hit wonder in Lakers lore.