Lakers coach search: Front office priorities and how Darvin Ham has made a strong impression

The Lakers appear ready to take on the role of manager soon, with Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darwin Hamm, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland manager Trail Blazer for the position. which was left vacant when Frank Vogel was fired in the season. end. But as the final round of interviews is set, sources say The Athletic that Ham seems to have made the strongest impression so far.

Now, the final stage of the process will determine who will secure the job. Among the latest band, Stotts is known for his strong X and O ‘, making the postseason in eight of nine seasons in Portland, while Atkinson has been described as a sharp-minded and tireless worker.

Regarding the Lakers’ preferences, sources say that the team leaders have given priority to a coach who can gain respect and power from the locker room and who has a strong presence and voice to manage the different roles and relationships on the roster. These characteristics are well foretold for Ham’s candidacy. Throughout his time as assistant coach with the Lakers, Hawks and Bucks, Ham was known for his silly style and ability to resonate with his players – traits that have stood out in his communication with the Lakers so far, they said. sources.

Hamm, who played in eight NBA seasons from 1996 to 2008, is the only former NBA player among the three finalists. Even before he reached the NBA, however, Ham’s reputation as a force for nature was established when he broke the board while sinking during the 1996 NCAA tournament with Texas Tech. Hamm, Stots and Atkinson are also considering the vacancy of the Charlotte Hornets. Hamm is also a serious candidate for the Hornets, according to sources.

The three finalists will soon meet with top Lakers officials – including owner Jeanie Buss – in Los Angeles for the next personal phase, sources said. So far, Lakers basketball vice president Rob Pelinka, basketball director Kurt Rambis, research and development vice president Joey Buss and assistant general manager Jesse Buss have led the first phase of the coaching interviews.

The Lakers interviewed a total of six candidates, including the Bucks ‘assistant Charles Lee, the Raptors’ assistant Adrian Griffin and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson. Lee and Griffin have not been ruled out as options in the process, sources said.

“As for what this team needs right now, we obviously feel like a superstar in our team, we want a strong voice that can inspire players to play at the highest level of games every night,” Pelinka told coaching. search on April 11th. “I believe that this will be one of the resounding characteristics we are looking for, in terms of keeping everyone, from the top player on our team to the 15th player in a degree of responsibility, and this will be one of the many characteristics that spring up today.” .

However, after all the recent talk about influential voices in Laker Land, with Jeanie Buss known to be based on Phil Jackson and Magic Johnson as he tries to rectify the course of a 2021-22 season that was such disaster, it is fair to wonder who makes the decision here. A source with direct knowledge of the process shared the following knowledge about this front The Athlete:

• Pelinka is the head of the committee that will finally make the decision. Jeanie Buss, who has not yet been involved in the process, is not a member of the committee and plans to postpone her recommendation. Phil Jackson and Johnson are also not part of the committee.

It’s just Lakers officials – none of whom are named LeBron James. While it is known that James would have been thrilled at the prospect of Mark Jackson nodding here, this obviously will not happen.

For the sake of context, it’s worth pressing the back button on the Lakers’ last coaching quest three years ago. After limiting their list to Monty Williams, Ty Lue and Juwan Howard, they finally completed Frank Vogel for a variety of reasons. In these recent interviews, Pelinka has had with them Jeanie Buss, Kurt and Linda Rambis, COO Tim Harris, Joey Buss and Jesse Buss.

• Considering the many non-flattering stories that have surrounded the Lakers in recent years, from the messy release of the Magic in April 2019 to Jerry West considering them “dark” In December 2020, in Vogel’s “I was not told shit” fire that was so badly executed, Jeanie Buss is determined to allay all the finalists’ concerns about the organization at this final stage. Her message, the source said, will focus on an organizational commitment to provide both the resources and internal support needed to inspire the team’s success.

Agent Russell Westbrook continues to look great here. Candidates were asked to discuss how they would use a roster that includes Westbrook, with Lakers officials operating with the belief that it will be part of their program next season. Westbrook has a $ 47 million player selection for the 2022-23 campaign.

As for the prospect of Westbrook resigning or being sent home (Houston’s John Wall last season) if he is not traded, these are not considered viable options and all indications are that he will play. With that in mind, the Lakers focus on hiring a coach who is capable of responding to such sensitive situations.

– The AthleticBill Oram contributed to this report.

(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA Today)

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