Darvin Ham took the LA Lakers to the Western Conference finals in his first year as a head coach. Ham was at the helm when the team roared from a 0.3% chance of making the playoffs to battling the eventual champions in the conference finals. The former NBA journeyman led the team to win the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament.
The Lakers are 15-14 this season heading into their game on Saturday against the OKC Thunder. It’s a better win-loss slate than their 13-16 record at the same point last season. However, Ham’s team is struggling, and many think he may be in the hot seat.
Already, there is a list of potential replacements for Darvin Ham that has gone viral:
Phil Handy: +350
Juwan Howard: +600
Jared Dudley: +750
Kenny Atkinson: +750
Sam Cassell: +750
Jamahl Mosley: +800
Quin Snyder: +800
JB Bickerstaff: +1000
Steve Clifford: +1000
Mike Brown: +1600
LeBron James: +2500
Skip Bayless: +100000
Phil Handy, one of LA’s assistant coaches, was reportedly one of the leading candidates to take over Frank Vogel before the front office chose Darvin Ham. The next 10 options are still involved as head coach or assistant coach in the NBA. If Ham has to be replaced, it might not happen this season.
An interesting name in the mix is LeBron James, the face of the NBA and the franchise superstar. The last time the league had a player-coach was during the 1978-79 season. The late Dave Cowens had a 27-41 record with the Boston Celtics in that capacity.
“King James” is the LA Lakers’ coach when he’s on the floor. However, asking him to do it full-time and also put in the work as a player may be too much at this stage in his career.
Finally, there’s Skip Bayless, the longtime LeBron James critic on the list. The Lakers would have to be beyond desperate to even consider him.
Darvin Ham’s offense is sputtering
LA Lakers GM Rob Pelinka retooled the roster to make it better and more balanced. They acquired Jaxson Hayes, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish and Christian Wood in the offseason. Darvin Ham still has LeBron James, Austin Reaves, Anthony Davis and Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell as the main players.
With a star-studded cast at his disposal, the Lakers are remarkably struggling on offense. Heading into their game on Saturday against the OKC Thunder, they are ranked 24th in offensive efficiency. The Washington Wizards, who have won just five games this season, are better than them in that category.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are having superb seasons and have been largely healthy, but there’s reason to worry as the team is struggling.
The LA Lakers are also 25th in 3-point efficiency, the second-worst team in offensive rebounding and bottom 10 in turnovers. Having said that, Darvin Ham’s team showed in the NBA In-Season Tournament that they’re still tough to beat.
In a knockout format, they’re as legit title contenders as any. A seven-game series, though, might be an entirely different thing if the offense continues to sputter. Ham knows the pressure of coaching the Lakers and has embraced it. His stint in Hollywood could depend on how his team will perform this season.