NBA Rumor: Lakers Coaching Job

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Juwan Howard was the Lakers' No. 1 choice for head coaching job

The most interesting thing I’ve heard while we wait for Ham’s official introduction is that, according to the latest buzz in league coaching circles, Michigan’s Juwan Howard was the Lakers’ preferred candidate among the various coaches to whom they were linked who were under contract elsewhere and thus ultimately unavailable — ahead of Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Utah’s Quin Snyder.

The Lakers, I’m told, made such strong overtures to Howard that the implication was clear: The job was his if he wanted it. As covered here on May 2, Howard made it clear in turn throughout the Lakers’ 47-day search that — despite his long associations with both James and Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka — he had no interest in leaving behind the college game at Michigan and the opportunity to coach sons Jace and Jett next season.

Lakers officially announce hiring of Darvin Ham

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Darvin Ham to a multi-year contract as head coach, it was announced today by Vice President, Basketball Operations and General Manager Rob Pelinka. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not released. “When someone begins his NBA coaching career at the G League level and goes all the way through playing an integral role on the front bench of an NBA Championship team, it really speaks to a certain strength of character. Our players and fans will immediately identify with Darvin’s no-nonsense and hard-working approach, which we feel will bring toughness and a competitive edge to all we do,” said Pelinka. “When you add that to Darvin’s sophisticated grasp of in-game strategy and deep knowledge of the game of basketball, we have the ideal coach for this next chapter in Lakers history. We could not be more honored and proud to name Darvin Ham as our new head coach.”

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.”

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.”

LeBron James, Lakers' front office split on next coach?

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.”

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.

Darvin Ham the coach LeBron James wants?

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.

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.

Lakers' coaching candidates asked how they would use Russell Westbrook

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.

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.

Lakers not rushing head coaching search while waiting for Doc Rivers or Quin Snyder

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.

Mark Jackson more likely to get coaching gig in Sacramento

Mark Jackson was indeed a Klutch client in the past and, sources say, maintains a strong relationship with Klutch CEO Rich Paul, whose foremost client, of course, is the Lakers’ LeBron James. There is undeniably a level of support within the Klutch camp for Jackson’s candidacy with the Lakers, but Jackson’s chances of finally getting another NBA coaching shot after an eight-year wait are much stronger with Sacramento.

Phil Jackson has no interest in Lakers' coaching 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.

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.”

Lakers seriously interested in Quin Synder as their next head coach

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.

Quin Snyder less interested in Lakers job now?

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.

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.

Frank Vogel on job speculation: 'It's not easy to shut it out'

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.”

Doc Rivers a candidate to replace Frank Vogel in Los Angeles?

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.

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.

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.”
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June 27, 2022 | 6:37 am EDT Update

Cavaliers very much interested in bringing back Ricky Rubio

One member of the organization said the Cavs had chances to move into the late first round if they desired, but any player selected there comes with a guaranteed contract. The Cavs are very much interested in bringing back Ricky Rubio, whose expiring contract was used as matching salary in the LeVert trade. If they do, it would give them 14 guaranteed contracts. They didn’t want to add any others at this stage. Rubio certainly won’t be ready for the start of the season as he continues rehabbing from a second ACL surgery, and likely wouldn’t be available until January. If the Cavs elect to bring him back, they’ll likely have to try and make do with LeVert and/or Collin Sexton sharing the backup point guard duties until Rubio is ready. It’s hardly ideal, but it illustrates how much this team still values Rubio.
And that, of course, is also assuming Sexton is still on this team next season. Sexton is a restricted free agent this summer. It’s worth noting the Cavs could also sign a veteran point guard to a league minimum deal with the understanding he could be gone when Rubio is ready in January. Navigating deals for Sexton and Rubio this summer will be complicated, particularly since the Cavs ideally would like to stay out of the luxury tax for one more year.
Zach Lowe, Woj’s ESPN’s colleague, didn’t mention numbers on his free agency podcast Friday, but described the Nets latest offer as “real.” “The Nets have made a real offer to Kyrie Irving. I don’t know the exact permutations. Probably several. This is not a case where there’s a one-year deal and that’s it. He’s been offered real stuff but I don’t exactly know what they are.”
Jaylen Brown just brought the Boston Celtics to within two wins of an NBA title, but he still feels he is not getting his due from the local fanbase. The Celtics star “liked” a notable tweet on Sunday, just over a week after Boston fell to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. The tweet read, “Jaylen Brown is so disrespected by Celtics fans.” You can see Brown’s “like,” which remains visible on his public page, here. While it is not totally clear what prompted Brown’s “like,” former Celtics big man and current team analyst Brian Scalabrine had recently suggested that the Celtics trade Brown as part of a package for Kevin Durant. That spurred debate among Boston fans over Brown’s true value to the team.
From an unranked high school player to a top four pick, Murray’s rise has been meteoric over the last couple of years. He believes that he can play both forward positions, which could come in handy as the Kings attempt to add more talent to the roster. “I think I can play different positions,” Murray said. “Obviously it depends who is on the court and who we’re playing. I think I’m able to adapt to different positions, it doesn’t matter if it’s small forward, power forward spot. Whatever they need me to do is where I’ll fit in and where I’ll be my best at.”
“I think adding Keegan, somebody who he just said can play multiple positions, really helps us as we build it out,” McNair said. “But as always, we’re going to be aggressive and see what we can do to continue to add to this team.” McNair said that he feels the Kings are in a good spot in the coming days to add, be it through free agency or via trade. Murray is expected to play in the upcoming California Classic in the Bay Area, as well as Las Vegas Summer League. The Kings have been busy adding players on two-way and summer league contracts over the last few days and there is potential for the team to put up a nice showing during the summer schedule.