According to the buzz in NBA coaching circles over the weekend, Ham has likewise been promised the autonomy to pick his coaching staff and is said to have received assurances that Lakers senior advisor Kurt Rambis will not be a regular presence in coaching meetings like he was with Vogel. If those promises come to fruition and Ham actually receives all that latitude, they will rank as significant concessions secured by a first-time NBA head coach.
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.”
Based on conversations with those in the know, a ranking of the most powerful Laker decision-making officials would be: executive director/special projects Linda Rambis, director of basketball affairs Kurt Rambis, president of business operations Tim Harris (who dated Jeanie Buss long ago) and general manager Rob Pelinka.
All three finalists will soon meet with top Lakers officials — including owner Jeanie Buss — in Los Angeles for the next in-person stage, sources said. So far, Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka, director of basketball affairs Kurt Rambis, vice president of research and development Joey Buss and assistant general manager Jesse Buss have led the first stage of coaching interviews.
She offered strong backing to another embattled Laker basketball exec, Kurt Rambis, who won 28% of his games in four seasons as an NBA coach and whose increased influence has been met with public derision. “I know that there’s been some unfair criticism of Kurt Rambis,” she said. “I want to remind people, he’s been involved in the NBA for close to 40 years, that he has been a part of championship teams both as a player and assistant coach, he is someone I admire for his basketball knowledge.”
“In terms of Linda Rambis, she does not have a role in the basketball department; her role is, as it’s been for the last almost 40 years, is as my advisor,” Buss said. “She and I have worked together for years and years and years. Why that has become an issue for people, I don’t understand.”
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.”