Lakers hiring nightmare Darvin Ham replacement is now much less likely

The Lakers' odds of making this disaster head coaching hire dropped significantly.
Los Angeles Lakers, Rob Pelinka
Los Angeles Lakers, Rob Pelinka / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were interested in several candidates in 2022 when they hired Darvin Ham to be their head coach. Ham led the franchise to the conference finals in year one, but things were far from perfect. His game management was questionable and his rotations were head-scratching. The Lakers parted ways with Ham, and are expected to cast a wide net for his replacement.

LA wants to win immediately. LeBron James turns 40 in December, and there is pressure to build a title-contending roster around him. It starts with their head coach. The Lakers need someone who can bring the team to together and get the most out of this group.

Before hiring Ham, the Lakers' other finalists were Kenny Atkinson and Terry Stotts. Both could factor into this year’s choice with J.J. Redick as a fresh name. Rob Pelinka likely has interest in his former college teammate as he did in 2022, but he just agreed to a gig elsewhere.

Juwan Howard just accepted an assistant coaching job with the Nets

The former University of Michigan head coach played with Pelinka in college and LeBron James in the NBA. Howard was not interested in 2022 because he was coaching his sons in college. He interviewed with the Lakers in 2019 but declined a chance last time. Things have changed, but the result likely stays the same.

The 51-year-old played 19 years in the NBA and spent six as a Heat assistant coach, including one coaching LeBron James, before coaching his alma mater. Howard went 87-72 during his five seasons at Michigan. The Wolverines made the Elite Eight in 2021 but failed to qualify for the tournament in each of the last two years, which led to his firing. His head coaching track record does little to inspire confidence for the Lakers.

Howard agreed to join the Nets as an assistant under new head coach Jordi Fernandez on April 26. His stock has dropped considerably since 2022, and Howard will try to rebuild it in Brooklyn.

Juwan Howard signing with Nets saves Lakers

His fresh deal with the Nets saves the Lakers from a disaster scenario. Rob Pelinka wanted Juwan Howard to coach his team in 2022. That likely has not changed over the last two years. LA should not go for a first-time NBA head coach. They have championship aspirations and a talented roster. They need experience or at least not a head coach who just went 8-24 in the NCAA last season.

Hiring Howard as the Lakers head coach would end in total disaster. The NBA veteran is with the Nets and should stay for a few years in hopes of rebuilding his stock. Howard has a high basketball IQ, but things did not end well at Michigan.

The Los Angeles Lakers got fortunate that Howard won’t be available, but they still need to make the right head coaching hire. They have had a quit trigger on coaches in recent years but would love to find a long-term replacement. Who gets the gig? Stay tuned to find out.