NBA rumors: Chauncey Billups on Darvin Ham: 'He's going to be honest as a coach of the Lakers'

The news of Ham’s hiring — which still hasn’t been announced by the Lakers — has been met with endorsements from those who crossed paths with Ham during his career: former coaches, teammates and colleagues lauding the Lakers for handing things over to a first-time coach. “He’s going to be honest as a coach of the Lakers, which is what I think you need in the NBA today — somebody that’s going to be honest but know how to be honest without actually just tearing you down,” former teammate Chauncey Billups, now the coach in Portland said Saturday. “What can you say? He’s won as a player. He’s won as a coach. I mean, this dude is more than qualified for the task at hand. I’m so happy and proud of him. I spoke to him last night and he was so excited.”

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Years later, Billups experienced the same things with Ham as a teammate with the Pistons, one of Ham’s six NBA homes. “I’m sure if you talked to the guys that he played with, he was probably their favorite-teammate type dude. He was always so competitive,” Billups said. “He brought the heat to practice every day. Every time he got in the game, he just raised the level of play. He’s the man. Not one person would say anything bad about him. “He’s that guy.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: On the Lakers hiring of Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Giannis Antetokounmpo tells ESPN: “I’m so happy for him. He’s the right fit for them. He keeps it real with you. No BS at all. It’s about damn time. He deserves it more than anyone.”
But those who know him, and know of his reputation, believe he’s well-equipped for the job and fits an archetype for what the Lakers were looking for. Ham spent the last few years with the Milwaukee Bucks as a top assistant under Mike Budenholzer, developing a reputation for being a player’s coach — a term several executives used to describe him.
“If you look around the league now, the coaches who are having successes — Steve Kerr, Monty Williams, Willie Green — [not only have] excellent knowledge but an ability to connect and hold [players] accountable,” an high-ranking league executive told Yahoo Sports. “He has a personable blend of that. A strong individual. He can garner respect from his players. I like it.”
When asked about the strong personalities, such as coaching James in an advanced stage of his career, a strong-minded Westbrook coming off the worst year of his career and Anthony Davis being unavailable for long stretches, multiple executives reached by Yahoo Sports expressed confidence Ham will be able to adjust and handle the locker room. As for potential conflict, one executive said with a chuckle, “Don’t try him.”
Marc J. Spears: With the hiring of Darvin Ham as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers via @Adrian Wojnarowski, half of the 30 head coaches in the NBA are now black. With Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra (Asian), 16 of the NBA head coaches are of color. The Charlotte Hornets still have an opening.
And the Rivers rumors? Seems the players, and perhaps general manager Rob Pelinka, too, would rather see an experienced, win-now coach on the sidelines. “If LeBron could pick,” the executive said, “it’s pretty certain he’d pick Doc.” The exec was quick to point out that the Lakers had hoed to be united on the coaching front, considering their last foray into a coaching hire, in 2019, was bungled. The team pursued Ty Lue then but would not meet his contract request, and lost out on Monty Williams to Phoenix almost at the same time. Recently fired coach Frank Vogel was the Lakers’ third choice.
Most of the front office, it seems, has zeroed in on Darvin Ham, with former head coaches Terry Stotts (Portland) and Kenny Atkinson (Brooklyn) also in the mix. Ham was briefly an assistant with the Lakers, and according to league sources, he is the favorite of the Phil Jackson-Kurt Rambis layer of Lakers decision-makers. “I think those guys want a young coach they can mold a little bit,” one Western Conference executive told Heavy.com. “I do not think Darvin is a pushover by any means. I just think that they want a guy they can point in the direction they want to go, more traditional basketball, using Russell Westbrook a certain way.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The Lakers interviewed former Blazers coach Terry Stotts for franchise’s head coaching job in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Two more assistants will meet with LA in near future — Golden State’s Kenny Atkinson and Milwaukee’s Darvin Ham.
Suspicions persist in league coaching circles that the Lakers have not completely abandoned hope that Philadelphia's Doc Rivers becomes unexpectedly available — despite the recent insistence from Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey that Rivers will be back in Philly next season.
As written here on May 2, Ham is also long overdue for a head coaching shot and is known to possess the confidence/presence/demeanor to not only forge a working relationship with James and Anthony Davis but likewise let them know that he does intend to coach them. If the Lakers have no shot at a more established coach like Rivers or Utah’s Quin Snyder, my presumption, frankly, is that they would want to hire Ham as head coach and try to convince Stotts to accept a top assistant/offensive coordinator role that he’s overqualified for.
Theoretically, what type of person should coach the Lakers next? Magic Johnson: I think that, to me, they’re showing you, right now. Probably besides Erik Spoelstra, all the other three that’s in the final four are ex-players. So, I think that says a lot about these young ex-players who command respect right away, who have done it before. I’m not saying it has to be an ex-player, but I’m saying you have to look at what’s going on. Most of the guys who are in the playoffs. But the most important thing to me is accountability. They must hold everybody, one through 15, accountable. And we got away from accountability. Guys never talked about that this season. It was always somebody else’s fault. I hated that. Never, ‘Hey, I played bad. Hey, It’s on me.’ So whether it’s an ex-player or not, but the trend is ex-players. But if not, I want a coach that’s going to hold everybody accountable. And, so, that’s what I would like to see.
The Lakers may be willing to take that leap of faith because Ham spent two years with the organization. His personality isn't easily forgotten. Ham brings a lot of energy to a gym. He's arguably the best fit for the locker room, with veterans like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and possibly Russell Westbrook in need of a coach they can relate to and respect. "He's the guy LeBron wants," a competing source said. It will be up to Ham to spell out his basketball vision, in general and in context to the Lakers' roster makeup. He could be the hire if he can sell that side to the team's front office.
Stotts may be the opposite of Vogel, a high-level defensive coach with a limited offensive repertoire. If Stotts is the hire, the Lakers should pair him with a high-level lead defensive assistant. Some sources wondered if Stotts would struggle, like Vogel, to command the locker room's respect, although he worked well with Lillard for a long stretch.
He also has a reputation for being a bit headstrong or rigid in personality. He's going to demand respect, but he's going to need to clarify precisely why he and the Nets divorced in-season. Is he the right coach for star players with strong personalities like James? Atkinson may have the most outside-the-box style of the three finalists. Per a competing source, he's similar to Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, willing to experiment with unconventional strategies to win by whatever means necessary.
The notion of Russell Westbrook remaining part of their program is seeming more real all the time. Despite the widely held belief that the Lakers would find a way to trade Westbrook before the start of next season, sources say their coaching candidates have been asked to discuss how they would use him in their system during interviews. The takeaway for candidates, it seems, is that maximizing Westbrook’s presence after his disastrous 2021-22 season is considered an important part of this job.
To that end, it’s worth revisiting my report from earlier this month about Jackson’s affinity for Westbrook. When the decision was made to fire Vogel, there was a belief from on high that Westbrook wasn’t put in a position to succeed. For Jackson’s part, sources say he has cited the Gary Payton dilemma in the 2003-04 Lakers season as a way of illustrating a coach’s need to make the best of roster decisions that weren’t his preference. In essence, deal with the hand you’re dealt rather than complain about it.
When the Lakers’ late owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, insisted on adding Payton in the summer of 2003, that meant Jackson had to convince Derek Fisher to come off the bench. And considering those Lakers had won titles in three of the previous four seasons with Fisher starting, this wasn’t a welcome situation for Jackson to have to handle. Yet though they didn’t win it all, the Lakers did manage to return to the finals that season (where they lost to Detroit). The comparison, it seems, was made to make the point that the coach (and his staff) should somehow find a way to find the Westbrook solution. Again, the strong signs continue that the Lakers are preparing for the possibility of Westbrook remaining.
Rivers has three years left on his Philadelphia contract worth a reported $24 million, while league sources maintain that the Lakers' coaching search has moved so slowly at least in part because they want to see if Rivers or another coach from the top tier (like Utah's Quin Snyder) makes it to the open market this offseason. One suspects that, one way or another, Rivers is going to start next season with a good job.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue to loom as an interested suitor should Rivers become available, but Morey is adamant — for now — that there will be no coaching change. Defensive as Rivers has been with the media throughout these playoffs — mainly about the blown 3-1 leads of his past and his initial devotion to DeAndre Jordan as Embiid's stand-in — it appears he will get the chance to try to make up for such a limp Sixers finish. “I just think he's a great coach and I love working with him," Morey said Friday at his season-ending news conference, with Rivers sitting right beside him at the interview dais.
Plaschke noted in his interview that in his discussion with Jeanie, she pushed back against the mere idea of trading LeBron, so it certainly doesn’t feel like that is a remote possibility. He also said he believes the Lakers would keep Westbrook next season and would make it a requirement for the next head coach to make it work with Westbrook, LeBron and Anthony Davis.
Former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham, Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin and Jackson are the four known candidates to have interviewed with the Lakers to date. Sources maintain that the Lakers’ search is moving deliberately at least in part because L.A. wants to see if Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers or Utah's Quin Snyder makes it to the open market this offseason.
As for who will coach LeBron next season after Frank Vogel was just fired ... Magic told us it certainly won't be him, and probably not Phil Jackson either. But, the Hall of Famer did say Jackson will help in the hunt for the next head man ... something he appears to believe will be good for the org.'s future.
The Lakers interviewed former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts and former Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson in their search to replace Frank Vogel as head coach. Assistants Darvin Ham (Milwaukee) and Adrian Griffin (Toronto) have also spoken with the Lakers about the job.
When the decision was made to fire Vogel, sources say his handling of Westbrook and the inability to find a way to make him a more productive part of the program were among the factors that played a big part. There was a strong sense that it was on Vogel to make the Westbrook experiment work, and the fact that it didn’t lead to questions about whether Westbrook had been put in a position to succeed. That sure smells like the hope of a Russ revival to me. And how’s this for a tidbit to tie this thread up: Jackson is known to have been a fan of Westbrook’s throughout his career. Sources say Phil Jackson has no interest in taking on this coaching job (or any other) himself — let’s just stop that rumor right here — but his view of Westbrook is relevant. As we’ve established, Jackson’s voice matters again.
Josh Lewenberg: Masai said he's been getting calls about Adrian Griffin, among other Raptors assistants. It would appear one of those calls was from the Lakers. "I think Adrian is right there on the cusp of becoming a head coach in this league"- Ujiri on Griffin yesterday.
Adrian Wojnarowski: “This is very much a committee in L.A. putting together this coaching search. And one person who is certainly significantly involved in this process is Phil Jackson. He’s got a voice in this. He did last time when they hired Frank Vogel. He and Kurt Rambis, (Vogel) had been somebody they had considered with the Knicks before hiring Derek Fisher in New York... They’re moving deliberately. They’re not doing seven or eight or nine candidates all at once. They’re kind of going down a list and taking their time with it. I think that process is going to take a bit.”
Josh Lewenberg: Masai Ujiri on reports of the Lakers' interest in Nick Nurse: "No team has contacted me. And I see all the stuff that you guys see. I dream like they dream. I want Messi. I want Renaldo. I want Kobe Bryant. So they can keep dreaming. I dream too."
Michigan's Juwan Howard is known to hold James' respect after their time together in Miami but is said to be firm in his desire to stay with the Wolverines to coach sons Jace and Jett. Toronto's Nick Nurse and Snyder — also frequently cited as candidates for the post — are not currently available, so pursuing them (or others under contract) comes with complications.
The Lakers' interest in Snyder as a successor to Frank Vogel is serious, sources say. There is nonetheless ongoing skepticism in coaching circles that Snyder would want to move from Utah — where he has enjoyed a considerable amount of control and influence — to take over the LeBron James-led Lakers in their current state after the never-ending chaos that engulfed Vogel's last two seasons. Vogel, remember, wasn't allowed to choose any of his primary assistant coaches and had to take constant input from Lakers front office adviser Kurt Rambis.
As we've been reporting here since March, San Antonio and the Lakers are believed to have interest in Snyder should he become available. In the Lakers’ case, actually, it has zoomed well past belief. There would certainly be other teams as well if Snyder became a coaching free agent despite Utah’s string of painful playoff endings after regular-season excellence.
Before hiring Frank Vogel in 2019, the Lakers negotiated with Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue. Per sources familiar with the discussions, the franchise offered three-year deals with less money than each demanded. They ended up offering the same deal to Vogel.
The Quin Snyder thing is interesting, just because Quin and Rob Pelinka have a friendship and relationship dating back many years. And you feel like if there was a coach who Rob would kind of get out of the way for... it would be Quinn.
And here’s a tidbit to monitor as the Lakers conduct their latest coaching search: Sources say James would be very enthused by the prospect of Mark Jackson landing the job. But as history tells us, that doesn’t mean it will actually happen.
Snyder, who is known for having very good offensive sets and a solid defensive foundation, has led the Jazz to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. He was an assistant with the Lakers while on the staff of coach Mike Brown in 2011-2012. Not only is Snyder under contract with the Jazz for at least one more season, people not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said he has become less interested in the Lakers’ job because of how the Vogel firing was handled.
Nurse, who led the Raptors to the NBA championship in 2019, also has a few years left on his deal and no one from around the league thinks Toronto will let him leave. Nurse signed a multiyear contract extension in 2020 with two years still remaining on his current deal. As one person with knowledge of the situation said, “there hasn’t been anything substantiated by way of any discussion from any parties.” Nurse is represented by Klutch Sports, which also represents Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom have told friends that they like how Nurse coaches.
Although Rivers has three years left on his deal with the 76ers, a person familiar with his situation said he should not be discounted as a candidate. Rivers won an NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008 and lost a Finals rematch with the Lakers in 2010. Many people around the league feel Rivers has the clout and the respect to coach stars like James, Davis and Russell Westbrook.
According to people familiar with Howard’s situation, he wants to continue coaching his two sons, Jett and Jace, who both play at Michigan. Howard interviewed for the Lakers job that eventually went to Vogel in 2019. Howard was an assistant coach for six seasons with Miami and won two championships as a player with James and the Heat.
The most intriguing coaching names they likely will consider are Utah’s Quin Snyder, Toronto’s Nick Nurse, Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Michigan’s Juwan Howard, but all of those coaches are under contract. Steve Clifford, the former coach with the Orlando Magic, Terry Stotts, the former Portland Trail Blazers coach, and Darvin Ham, an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, are names that have been mentioned among league insiders.

https://twitter.com/RyanWardLA/status/1513577397915844609
As The Athletic reported in January, Vogel was nearly fired after the Lakers suffered a 33-point loss in Denver, creating an uncomfortable and public dialogue about his future. “It’s not easy to shut it out,” Vogel said. “It’s not fun to have those reports hanging over your head or seeing it everywhere you look, especially so early in the season (and) after what we’ve been able to accomplish here. But to me, that pressure of expectation has been here since the day I signed on.”
Unsurprisingly, Vogel was unwilling to speculate on his future on Tuesday. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. Even if he is not ready to discuss his fate, he seems to understand it. “It’s been a win-now job for each of the three years I’ve been here,” Vogel said.
That tepid extension opened the door to speculation about Vogel’s future and that chatter only intensified after the Lakers started the season 10-11, slipping under .500 with a triple-overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings. Some in league circles believed that Vogel would have been fired if the Lakers did not win their next game, at home against Detroit on Nov. 28, which they did — but only narrowly.
Doc Rivers, the Philadelphia 76ers’ head coach, is another active bench leader being mentioned by league personnel as a potential Lakers candidate. Rivers’ tenure in Philadelphia has also come into question of late, spurred by team president Daryl Morey’s deadline acquisition of James Harden and the mounting speculation that followed about a potential reunification with Harden’s former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.
There is, however, a healthy dose of skepticism around the NBA that Snyder would have interest in a hypothetical Lakers marriage. Snyder would appear to be just as prominent a candidate to one day succeed Popovich in San Antonio, even if Popovich endures on the Spurs’ sideline for the 2022-23 season.
There will certainly be other candidates to replace Vogel. Multiple league figures contacted by B/R referenced the possibility that Lakers senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis returns to the sidelines after several previous coaching stops in the league, including an interim stint as Los Angeles’ head coach. However, Rambis is said to be an integral figure in the front office and unlikely to resume a coaching role.
One wise caution I recently received from a former Spur: The notion that Popovich could finish out this season with his future unclear and abruptly hand the reins in the offseason to a hand-picked successor like Snyder is feasible because it would enable Pop to avoid the dreaded scenario of announcing his last season and then subjecting himself to a farewell tour.
Mark Medina: Lakers announced that they signed coach Frank Vogel to a contract extension. His original deal was going to end at the end of the 2021-22 season. So this obviously puts Vogel in good standing and shows the Lakers trust in him to manage another star-studded group.
Stadium: “I’m told Ty Lue struck a very emotional cord in his interview with Lakers leadership.” ICYMI Friday morning: NBA Insider @ShamsCharania on Ty Lue’s candidacy for Lakers coach.
The Lakers also interviewed Jason Kidd for the position on Monday, according to the same people. Pelinka and senior basketball advisor Kurt Rambis conducted the interview. Rambis returned to the organization last summer. He is married to Linda Rambis, the Lakers’ director of special projects who is Buss’ closest confidante. Kidd is not expected to have a serious shot at the Lakers’ job — a position that some in the organization felt he was campaigning for during the season.
Kidd becomes the third candidate to meet with the Lakers, following Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams and former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, who both interviewed last week. Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard is also scheduled to interview for the job, sources told ESPN, and Williams and Lue are also both expected to have follow-up sessions.
The Lakers have scheduled a second interview with Tyronn Lue on Wednesday in Los Angeles for their head-coaching vacancy, according to people not authorized to speak publicly on the search. This time, Lue will meet with Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss for the first time and again with general manager Rob Pelinka, according to the same people. Lue and Pelinka had a sit-down Friday in Newport Beach.
The Lakers also are scheduled to meet with Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard on Tuesday, according to the same people. Also, the Lakers are making plans to meet for a second time with Philadelphia assistant coach Monty Williams later this week.
Empowered by Buss to run the coaching search, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams this week, with plans to interview both again next week. While those second interviews have not been officially scheduled yet, they are expected to include Buss.
During an appearance on SportsCenter, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski outlined Lue’s desire to push back against the idea he would be hired solely because of James’ presence: “[Lue’s relationship with James] is certainly important, but I think one of the messages Ty Lue wants to get through to Rob Pelinka is, ‘I’m not here to be LeBron James’ coach. I’m here to coach the Lakers. I’m going to coach the whole group.’ I think one of the misnomers of Ty Lue’s time in Cleveland was, listen, he challenged LeBron James. He was hard on LeBron James at times. He’s not there to just be his caddy, and I do think that commanded LeBron’s respect. And I think that will be a big part of the conversation [Lue and Pelinka] have.”
Brad Turner: 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams will have a second interview with the Lakers next week and this time Lakers owner Jeanie Buss will be there with GM Rob Pelinka, per sources.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Ty Lue is meeting with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on Friday to discuss the franchise's coaching job, league sources told ESPN. The meeting is set for Southern California, sources said, and represents the GM's second significant sit-down of the Lakers' process to replace Luke Walton as coach.
There is an expectation on both sides that Pelinka will have a second visit with the franchise's other leading candidate -- Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams, league sources said. Pelinka met with Williams on Tuesday in Philadelphia, and the conversation is expected to continue in the near future.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is meeting with coaching candidate Ty Lue today, league sources tell ESPN.
Brad Turner: Sources: Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is meeting Philadelphia assistant coach Monty Williams today to discuss LA’s head coaching job that is open after Luke Walton was let go last week.
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Steve Clifford officially back to Charlotte

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team has named Steve Clifford head coach. Clifford, who previously served the team’s head coach from 2013-2018, returns to Charlotte, where his 196 wins ranks second in franchise history, sitting just 11 behind Allan Bristow.