We are 51 games into the Los Angeles Lakers season and they currently have a record of 26-25 which has them at 9th place in the Western Conference. A big reason why this team has struggled to meet expectations falls on head coach Darvin Ham and over the course of this current Lakers road trip it seems he has officially lost the locker room. The margin for error at this point is very slim as the Lakers have playoff aspirations but with the constant obstacles coach Ham puts the team through on a game-to-game basis it feels like the postseason will be difficult to reach.
After the Lakers' thrilling double overtime win against the Golden State Warriors on January 27th Anthony Davis was notified that the lineup with him, LeBron James, Jarred Vanderbilt, Austin Reaves, and D'Angelo Russell saw the most minutes it has all season. He was asked if that was a lineup he wanted to see more of and his response was "that's on coach".
This season that lineup has only logged 32 minutes together and in that time they have a plus 32.4 net rating which is the highest amongst any Laker lineup that has logged at least 30 minutes. So why this lineup hasn't been on the floor more this season especially when it was the blueprint to the Lakers deep playoff run last postseason comes down to Coach Ham valuing favortism over logic.
Taurean Prince had been getting the nod over Jarred Vanderbilt (n the starting lineup and it negatively impacts the team because he doesn't provide the defense that Jarred Vanderbilt provides in a starting five that's already very offensive-oriented. Now the Lakers don't even have the chance to start Vando because of injury.
Prince averages over 30 minutes per game which is 5th most on the team and is simply too much for a guy that was brought in via the bi-annual exception. 20-25 minutes would be more appropriate for Prince but he's being over-utilized while better players are being under-utilized.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for Darvin Ham and the Lakers
In the following game against the Houston Rockets on January 29th the Lakers lost 135-119. From the jump, the energy and effort wasn't there as they got off to a slow start and never recovered. But yet again another decision made by Darvin Ham has fans questioning why he still has a coaching job. In the fourth quarter, the Lakers trailed by as many as 30 points yet LeBron James played the entire quarter on the first night of a back-to-back in a game that was essentially out of reach. When asked about that decision Ham stated "At the end of the day, when you get down 30, you almost have to play perfect basketball to finish the game."
The chances of coming back from a deficit that large in a quarter are slim to none and the risk of injury isn't worth it especially when it's LeBron James. Anthony Davis was also seen leaving the huddle when it looked like Darvin Ham was attempting to draw up a play.
On January 30th the Lakers lost to the Atlanta Hawks 138-122 and the locker room seems like it's reached it's boiling point. With Anthony Davis being out, the starting lineup was released about an hour before tipoff which was D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Taurean Prince, LeBron James, and Jaxson Hayes. Christian Wood tweeted "lol" which many people believe was a shot taken at Darvin Ham for not having him in the starting lineup.
After the game Wood was asked about that tweet and said, "I meant to quote something but I didn’t have the quote I thought I did,” “and I just pressed send and I couldn’t check my phone before because we had to go out. It was an accident. I looked at it just now. It came off a certain type of way. I didn’t mean it that way".
I doubt anyone is going to buy that statement considering the timing of that tweet. Darvin Ham said he isn't on social media so he didn't see that and "we gotta look ourselves in the mirror and man up." The "inspirational" quotes are getting old at this point and it's time Darvin takes accountability for his own actions and realizes what he's doing is hurting the team.
However, the biggest story from that game came from LeBron James. James tweeted an hourglass and it has a lot of fans speculating the meaning behind it. Is LeBron losing his patience? That's certainly a valid question for one to have and when tying together everything that's recently transpired it seems that the players are tired of playing for coach Ham.
Two big wins over the Celtics and Knicks have helped quell the storm a tad, but there is no denying that Ham has lost the Lakers locker room.