Darvin Ham Becomes Sixth Coach Fired In LeBron James’ Career | Embattled Head Coach Scapegoated After Two Seasons

When the Los Angeles Lakers hired Darvin Ham in 2022 he was looked at as a breath of fresh air. Having just helped the Milwaukee Bucks win the franchise’s first title in 50 seasons in 2021 as head coach Mike Budenholzer’s lead assistant, Ham was looked at as rising star in the coaching profession. 

That was then, and despite a 90-74 overall record with a Western Conference Finals appearance in his first season, and this year’s five-game series loss to the Denver Nuggets by a total of 11 points, the Lakers relieved Ham of his duties on Friday.

What’s not surprising is that this would happen, because the Lakers have unrealistic expectations for a roster outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis that’s in many ways devoid of talent.

In other words, Darvin Ham became the latest scapegoat for the Lakers’ shortcomings. 

He’s also the sixth coach fired on LeBron James’ watch.

Ham Deserved Better 

In a press release, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, who the team should really be looking at, said:

“We greatly appreciate Darvin Ham’s efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognize the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons including Iast year’s remarkable run to the Western Conference Finals.”

“We all want to thank Darvin for his dedication and positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a review of the season. The organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-caliber basketball to Lakers fans around the world,”

This has become a theme for Pelinka since becoming the team’s GM in 2017. He’s fired three coaches, including Frank Vogel, who led the Lakers to the NBA championship in the NBA bubble. 

Pelinka, Not Ham, Should’ve Been Fired

While Ham’s in-game adjustments and rotations could’ve been better, he isn’t the one who put this roster together. Just as he had to navigate through the failed Russell Westbrook fiasco last season, Ham did the same thing this season. Dealt a roster that lacked consistent range shooting around James and Davis, Ham still did enough to guide the team to the playoffs, where they faced the defending champions. A daunting task to say the least, and despite losing in five games, the Lakers were in every single game, losing two games on Jamal Murray buzzer-beaters. 

Just like it was with Vogel and Westbrook, Ham is who they’ve chosen to make the scapegoat this time around. 

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith took it a step farther prior to the Lakers firing Ham. During Thursday’s episode of “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” Smith was adamant that if the Lakers believed there were better coaching candidates to replace Ham there are also better GM candidates than Pelinka, whose moves have been questionable at best and mostly unsuccessful. 

Did Ham Sense The Firing? 

Following Monday’s Game 5 loss, Ham sounded like a man who knew his time in L.A. was likely done. In his postgame presser the former Texas Tech star, who once shattered a backboard in an NCAA Tournament game, told reporters, “Sitting in this seat, it’s been a hell of a two years. A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately you want to win that ultimate prize.”

Ham will receive the remaining $10 million left on his four-year, $20 million deal. 

Back to top