As expected, Lakers fire coach Darvin Ham after two seasons

2024 NBA Playoffs - 	Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers
2024 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers

The expectation became a reality on Friday: After the team was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham after two seasons at the club's helm.

In his two years in Los Angeles Ham put together a resume that most clubs would celebrate: A 90-74 record, a trip to the Western Conference Finals, two playoff trips and an In-Season Tournament title.

However, for a Lakers team feeling the pressure to maximize LeBron James's final years, that was not enough.

Ham had not connected with the players. It's not so much that he lost the locker room this season as he never had it, the players had largely tuned out his relentlessly optimistic message, had grown frustrated with his lack of adjustments, and didn't understand his rotation choices. While injuries impacted Ham's rotations (especially to Jared Vanderbilt), he made odd choices such as benching Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell early in the season, trusting Taurean Prince to a fault, and going with guard-heavy lineups that were often getting destroyed.

Firing a coach not beloved by stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis — Ham would not be gone if they wanted him to stay — or the locker room is understandable. However, it's a band-aid on the situation without changes and upgrades to the Lakers roster. Los Angeles didn't lose to Denver the last two seasons because of the coach.

Four potential replacements were named by Shams Charania of The Athletic. Mike Budenholzer is one of the biggest-name coaches available and is on the list. However, his style of play isn't a natural fit with the Lakers' roster, plus he would come with a list of demands and want some say of players and personnel that the Lakers would likely not want to give.

Tyronn Lue — the guy Lakers GM Rob Pelinka could have had five years ago had he not lowballed Lue with his offer — would be a perfect fit if he is frustrated enough to walk away from the Clippers after their season. That said, Lue remains under contract with the Clippers and owner Steve Ballmer pays well. J.J. Redick is listed but has no experience as a head coach — outside of his son's AAU team — however he has a high basketball IQ and a strong relationship with LeBron. Kenny Atkinson is also named, although his strength is considered player development (if the Lakers want to rebuild, he's a great choice).