The Lakers have named Darwin Hamm as their next coach, sources told The Times on Friday.
Ham, 48, has spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, winning the championship last year. He had an eight-year career in the NBA as a player, winning a title against Arias With Detroit pistons in 2004.
The Lakers did not announce the mission and declined to comment.
“It’s very exciting,” LeBron James tweeted Friday evening. “Congratulations and welcome coach !!”
According to sources with knowledge of the process, Ham will be granted a large amount of autonomy, including the ability to select his own trainee staff. He is expected to meet with current Lockers staff next week.
According to sources, instead of Vocal being an important element in their search, the Ham Lockers were attracted to communicate and hold people accountable.
“As for what this team needs now, we feel with the superstars on our team that we need a strong voice that encourages players to play at the highest level every night,” General Manager Rob Belinga said after the team’s dismissal. “I think it’s going to be one of the amazing qualities we’ll be looking for in keeping everyone responsible, from the best player on our team to the 15th player.”
Despite winning the 2020 Championship, something that has not always been the case with Vogue, sources say the Lakers will find a candidate who can garner institutional support.
The Lockers interviewed former Portland coach Terry Stots this week and planned to talk to Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson, but after meeting Hamm on Thursday, the Lockers decided they would find their man.
Over the nearly 10 years he has been an assistant to Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, Ham has built a reputation for his ability to interact with players with interest, honesty and competitive motivation. He is considered to be an excellent coach with slightly more defensive expertise.
Hamin’s trip to the NBA was not possible and he only played in his senior year of high school basketball. Before he moved to Texas Tech, he studied for a season at Ottero Junior College in La Junta, Colo.
He became nationally famous when he broke the backboard with a dunk against North Carolina in the 1996 NCAA Tournament. Slam’s photo of him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Ham was not structured, but signed with Denver, starting NBA career covering stops in Indiana, Washington, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Detroit. In 417 games, he averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes. Ham also played in Spain and the Philippines.
After working in the Development League, Ham began his NBA coaching career with the Lockers in 2011 as a player development coach, working for Mike Brown.
In 2013, Ham moved to Atlanta to work for Budenholzer and began a relationship with him in Milwaukee.
His path from high school to NBA as a role player and longtime assistant has given him extensive knowledge as he has carved out a career in professional basketball.
He is the 28th coach and the fourth Black coach in Lockers history. Ham is the second first coach the Lakers have hired in their last three searches. The team hired former Laker Luke Walton in 2016 following a successful career as assistant and interim coach at Golden State. Walton went 98-148 with the Lockers.
The quest for the Ham landing was a shift from the play-filled process of replacing Walton in 2019. During that process, Monty Williams was selected to take up the job of coaching the Phoenix Sun. Another, Tyronn Lue, disagrees with lockers on key issues such as salary, contract duration and training staff decisions.
Initially, league sources thought that the Lakers would chase down established coaches such as Utah’s Quinn Snyder, Toronto’s Nick Nurse and Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers. However, all three are under contract and with little draft capital, there is no compensation for lockers to get a coach from another team.
Sources said Snyder was not interested in going to the lockers. While the reverse may seem like a serious option to some Lakers decision makers, 76ers captain Daryl Mori said he will be with the reverse team after being knocked out of the playoffs by Miami.
Michigan coach Juan Howard, who was interviewed by the Lockers in 2019, said it was never a serious option because of his desire to be with the Wolverines to coach his two sons.
In their search, the team spoke with Hamm, Stots, Atkinson, former NBA coach Mark Jackson, Milwaukee assistant Charles Lee and Toronto assistant Adrian Griffin, before hammering the search for Ham, Stots and Atkinson.