Lakers fire coach Darvin Ham after 2 seasons

The Los Angeles Lakers have fired head coach Darvin Ham.

Ham, who served as coach for two seasons, led the team to a disappointing exit from the first round of the playoffs this season.

The Lakers fell to the Denver Nuggets in five games, which was further compounded by last year’s playoffs, in which the Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

While the losses in this season’s playoffs stung, the manner in which they happened drew a great deal of criticism. In each game, the Lakers jumped out to large leads, only for the Nuggets to storm back and regain the lead in the waning minutes.

“The Lakers failed to protect a double-digit lead in all four of their losses in the series, including a 20-point second-half lead in Game 2,” ESPN reported.

In a statement posted to social media, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka thanked Ham for his “many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons including last year’s remarkable run to the Western Conference Finals.”

“While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season,” added Pelinka, who also serves as vice president of basketball operations. “This organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-caliber basketball to Lakers fans around the world.”

The entire coaching staff was also fired, according to ESPN reporter Dave McMenamin, who cited an L.A. Times report.

Of particular concern is the future of LeBron James, who continues to perform at an All-Star level despite being 39 years old.

James has the opportunity to become a free agent this summer, and as The Athletic reported, there was a “disconnect between Ham and his locker room.”

James, who is anticipated to play two more seasons in the NBA, showed visible frustration with Ham at times.

With Ham gone and the Lakers planning on rebuilding their roster around James, however, the pieces could be in place for Los Angeles to “make the most of this precious time in which James and [star center Anthony] Davis are still playing at an elite level,” The Athletic reports.

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