Inevitable: Lakers make major change after another loss to the Nuggets

Apr 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham (R) and assistant
Apr 29, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham (R) and assistant / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The writing has been on the wall for much of the season, and this seemed like a matter of when not if, but the Lakers have officially fired their head coach Darvin Ham. Ham led the team for two seasons, losing in the playoffs to the Nuggets each time.

There’s not much that Ham could have done, as he was given a flawed roster with unreliable role players and aging stars. At times, it seemed like the Lakers were showing glimpses of being a contending team, but ultimately they just aren’t on the Nuggets level. 

In both years under Ham, the Lakers were a play-in team and fought their way into the playoffs as a seven-seed. Last season they were able to battle their way to the conference finals before getting swept by the Nuggets, but this year it was a first-round knockout.

Perhaps if the bracket had shaken out differently the Lakers could have avoided Denver and they could still be playing. But teams with LeBron James are playing for championships and this version of the Lakers is nowhere close to being a championship-contending team.

Realistically, even an elite head coach probably wouldn’t have altered the Lakers’ fate this season. They are going to have a busy offseason as LeBron could become a free agent and even if he stays they need to retool around him in a major way.

What's next for Darvin Ham?

Now we can add one more thing to their list and that’s finding a new head coach. This was Ham’s first gig as an NBA head coach after being a player and assistant. He’s young and will likely get another chance at some point. Coaching a LeBron team is no easy task and Ham is not the first coach to be the scapegoat for a team’s failures.

Who will be the next coach of the Lakers?

As for Ham’s potential replacement, the Lakers will probably want to go with a more seasoned veteran coach this time around. Rumors have already been coming out about Ty Lue potentially moving over from the Clippers. Lue, of course, coached James in Cleveland.

One thing is clear, if LeBron stays with the Lakers he will essentially get to pick the coach. And if things don’t work out again, that coach will likely assume blame and end up with the same fate as Ham. And around and around we go.