The Los Angeles Lakers got their man in Darvin Ham. The man is a backboard breaker, literally. He had a good playing career and was known for his power dunks. As a coach, he already had a good reputation with late Laker legend, Kobe Bryant. How's that for a good recommendation?
On Monday, Ham was formally introduced as the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Notably, point guard Russell Westbrook was standing off to the side in a public show of support for the hiring. Ham has been a big supporter of Westbrook, and if someone can come in and fix the Westbrook-Lakers partnership, the hiring is already worth its weight in gold.
The Whole Staff Is Getting Shaken Up
With the exit of Frank Vogel, it was inevitable that not everyone on the coaching staff was going to be asked to stay. Some of these choices were already made. David Fizdale, Mike Penberty, and John Lucas III on Tuesday that they will not be retained, sources told ESPN. The good news is that Phil Handy and Quinton Crawford are being retained. Handy has been a good influence on the younger players and has a close relationship with LeBron James. He is almost universally beloved by Laker fans as a choice to keep around. Coach Ham was particularly honest.
"I like coaches that like to roll up their sleeves and are able to get out there. Where I come from the last nine years, we did everything. We did player development. We did scouting. I had to step in as the head coach on a few occasions. But it was a team. It wasn't coordinators on either side of the ball. We all pitched in on all aspects of our team basketball offensively and defensively. So, I'm looking to build that similar type of staff."
Ham appears to like to lead a team as a coordinated unit. The 2021-22 Lakers had some monstrous communication issues both on and off the court, so all of these indications are positive for a team who underachieved this past season.
Ham appears to be a big supporter of Russell Westbrook.
“And Russell - don’t get it messed up. Russ is one of the best players our league has ever seen and still has a ton left in that tank. I don’t know why people tend to try to write him off. I’m going to approach him like I do every player I’ve ever encountered. We’re going to talk about our running habits with the ball, without the ball. And, again, the team, the rhythm of the team and trying to establish a rhythm with LeBron, Russ and AD and, again, shared the load defensively and offensively. Defensively is where you’re going to see us make our biggest leaps and bounds. We have to commit to the defensive side of the ball or we don’t have a chance to do anything. Our offense won’t even matter if we don’t get stops.”
Every Laker fan who reads that should be saluting the heavens, with one caveat. Westbrook has to buy into the defensively-minded philosophy. If Ham can lead Westbrook to it, the Lakers may yet be able to pull some MVP-caliber basketball out of Westbrook.
Let's hope so.