Lakers coaching search: Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts, Kenny Atkinson enter final round of interviews, according to reports

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The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly narrowed their search for a head coach to three candidates. Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts have advanced to the latest round of interviews. according to ESPN. Kenny Atkinson, assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, was also nominated as a finalist. per The Athletic. Of the finalists, The Athletic reports that Ham appears to have made the strongest impression

All three candidates were hot commodities in the coaching market as the Charlotte Hornets were also interested in them. The job with the Lakers might be more enticing, however, given the fact that LA has championship contenders in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Though Los Angeles struggled last season largely due to injuries and the failure of the Russell Westbrook experiment, the Lakers should be contenders next season if they can take steps to improve their roster this summer.

If Ham got the job, it would be his first appearance as head coach in the league. He has been with the Bucks since 2018, succeeding Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks. During that time, Ham has been a fixture on the Budenholzer coaching staff, helping guide the Bucks to a championship last season and helping develop two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Ham has lined up for several head coaching jobs in the past but has yet to land one.

Stotts has not coached since splitting from the Portland Trail Blazers after the 2020-21 season. During his time there, he guided them to the Western Conference Finals and missed the playoffs only once during his nine-year tenure. Before that, he was on the coaching staff that helped the Dallas Mavericks to a championship in 2011. He’s an offense-oriented coach, something that could help a Lakers team that ranks 22nd in the league in offense rating. However, Stotts has been criticized for always ranking his teams bottom of the league on defense, something he could easily address by filling the rest of his coaching staff with defensive thoughts.

Atkinson has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers and currently fills the same role with the Warriors. He previously managed the Brooklyn Nets for four seasons, where his coaching record improved in each of his first three seasons. Atkinson was fired after the 2019-20 season in part due to personality conflicts between Atkinson, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

According to The Athletic, the Lakers will conduct another round of interviews with these three candidates in Los Angeles in the near future. Lakers coaching search: Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts, Kenny Atkinson enter final round of interviews, according to reports

Justin Scacco

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