WATCH: Charles Barkley Takes Surprising Stance on Darvin Ham and Lakers' Struggles

While the majority of media personalities are blaming Darvin Ham for the Los Angeles Lakers' latest exit, NBA legend Charles Barkley refuses to completely throw the head coach to the wolves.
Charles Barkley isn't completely blaming Darvin Ham for the Lakers' issues.
Charles Barkley isn't completely blaming Darvin Ham for the Lakers' issues. / Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers' latest NBA postseason run ended exactly as it did last year: with a loss to the Denver Nuggets. Although they weren't swept by Nikola Jokic & Co. this time around, Lakers fans are disappointed by the fact that the team seemingly wasted another year of having LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster.

Just like when most teams face a disappointing playoff exit, a good chunk of media members and Lakers fans are putting the blame on head coach Darvin Ham. After all, the 50-year-old bench boss has consistently come under fire for his bizarre lineup decisions and inability to hold on to double-digit leads, putting him on the hot seat as the offseason looms.

But while most people are piling onto Ham, one NBA legend has come to his defense.

Lakers News: Charles Barkley Defends Darvin Ham

On Wednesday's edition of TNT's "Inside the NBA," former 1993 league MVP Charles Barkley dedicated some time to addressing the talk surrounding Ham. Barkley didn't mince words, declaring that a lot of media members are "cowards" who "want the players to like them" and would rather be on their good side rather than "tell the truth."

Barkley said that the reason why the Lakers sucked wasn't because of their head coach, but because the players themselves aren't that good. He went on to praise Ham, saying that the player-turned-coach has been trying to make the most of an unfavorable situation.

When it comes to who Lakers fans should blame for the early exit, Barkley alludes to the idea that the fanbase may want to blame owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka.

"You sit there like, 'Darvin Ham needs to get fired...' Who put them trash-ass teams together needs to get fired... The people who put those teams together should start packing up their stuff. "

Charles Barkley

At the end of the day, it's easy to see how both sides of the argument hold validity.

On one hand, Ham's inexperience makes him stick out like a sore thumb on a team that should be a contender like the Lakers. The fact that Los Angeles led at halftime in all five games against Denver yet still couldn't advance should be on the coach.

On the other hand, there's not much Ham can do when his players decide they want to disappear. D'Angelo Russell decided he was going to fall off a cliff for the second consecutive postseason while the supporting cast of Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince, Gabe Vincent, and Spencer Dinwiddie was nothing short of horrendous. While it's a coach's job to motivate their players, there's only so much Ham could do.

It's going to be interesting to see what the Lakers decide to do with the Saginaw, MI native. It was initially reported that Los Angeles was going to retain Ham regardless of how the playoffs ended, however, The Athletic's Jovan Buha reported on Thursday that the Lakers will fire him "likely by the end of the week."

""The plan is still to move on from [Ham] at some point, likely by the end of the week, potentially as early as [Friday]. Then, the head coaching search will start. Already started to hear some names from different people.""

Jovan Buha, The Athletic

Assuming this is the end of Ham's time with the Lakers, it isn't hard to say that his run left much to be desired. While Los Angeles had a 54.9% winning percentage (90-74) under his guidance during the regular season, the success rate plummeted to 42.9% (9-12) in the postseason, made worse by the fact that eight of the dozen playoff losses came against the Nuggets.

Hopefully, the Lakers finally find the right head coach to lead them back to championship glory. With all signs pointing to LeBron James hitting the open market this summer, Buss and Pelinka can't afford another colossal misstep.

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