Lakers Insider Provides Baffling Darvin Ham Update

Regardless of how the series against the Denver Nuggets goes, it looks like Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham might not be going anywhere.
Will Darvin Ham return for the 2024-25 NBA season?
Will Darvin Ham return for the 2024-25 NBA season? / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Several Los Angeles Lakers skated on thin ice into the first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, including head coach Darvin Ham. Even though the Lakers were a 47-win team this season, a year filled with inconsistencies left many to wonder if Ham is the right coach to bring a championship back to Los Angeles.

Many Lakers fans believed that the 2023-24 playoffs were Ham's last shot at keeping his job. If the team went on a deep postseason run, great. If not, supporters were more than willing to see what someone else could do with LeBron James and Anthony Davis next year.

But as it turns out, it might not matter if the Lakers beat or lose to the Nuggets: it appears that Ham's Hollywood future is secure.

Lakers Rumors: Darvin Ham to Return in 2024-25?

According to team insider Anthony F. Irwin, the "vast majority of people I've spoken to think Darvin Ham will be back next year, even if the Lakers lose in the first round." While that would be an easy pill to swallow if Los Angeles goes on a deep run, it'll be tougher to deal with if there's a first-round exit.

According to Irwin, there are a few reasons as to why the Lakers might decide to run it back with Ham. The first is the fact that a large chunk of the team's role players — Jarred Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Cam Reddish, etc. — missed significant time this season, implying that Ham wasn't playing with a full deck.

While I understand that line of thinking, let's not pretend as if all 30 teams don't have to deal with injuries. For example, the Dallas Mavericks only had five players who reached the 60-game mark (compared to the Lakers, who had eight) and still managed to hit 50 wins.

Furthermore, Ham doesn't even know how to use his available players correctly. There isn't a rhyme or reason to his lineups, failing to find the perfect balance between big men and guards.

Secondly, Irwin implies that last year's trip to the Western Conference Finals could also save Ham's job. While that run was impressive, the NBA is a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately' business, and losing again to the Nuggets (whether or not it's a sweep) won't inspire Los Angeles fans with any confidence.

Thirdly, ownership and management's pride could be another factor in Ham receiving an encore. Irwin implies that general manager Rob Pelinka firing Ham might imply that the former isn't good at his job.

"Firing Ham after only two seasons, with two remaining on his contract, would be tantamount to Pelinka admitting he, once again, hired the wrong person for the job after firing [Frank Vogel] who helped win the Lakers a championship only four years ago. "

Anthony F. Irwin

A championship-caliber head coach would also likely cost Lakers owner Jeanie Buss somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-12 million, per Irwin. In other words, he sees ownership as being unwilling to spend that much in addition to the $8 million they'd be paying Ham following a potential offseason dismissal.

If the Lakers are already locked into another year of Ham, the 50-year-old bench boss must prove that he's capable of more than what he's shown. Otherwise, it's going to be tough to convince the fanbase that he's the right pilot to steer the franchise back to championship glory.

What's interesting is that Irwin's report comes out just a few weeks after Hoops Wire's Ashish Mathur revealed that several Lakers players wanted Ham fired earlier this year. Assuming that everything from Irwin and Mathur is true, it looks like the upper brass is willing to put their wants ahead of their players.

Either way, something has to give soon. The Lakers are too successful of a franchise to be dealing with these kinds of coaching issues. It's time to figure out a way how to return the franchise to prominence, whether that's with Ham leading the charge or someone else entirely.

For now, the Lakers continue their series against the Nuggets with the 11th-best odds (+3700) to win the 2023-24 NBA Finals, per FanDuel Sportsbook.

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