Report: Darvin Ham Won’t Be Fired Even If Lakers Lose To Nuggets In 1st Round

According to NBA insider Anthony Irwin, Darvin Ham won’t be fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers even if the Lakers lose to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2024 playoffs. 

Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA
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The Lakers are expected to lose to the Nuggets, the defending NBA champions. 

The Lakers are 90-74 under Ham in the regular season. They were swept by the Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals. 

A source told Hoops Wire that Lakers players wanted assistant coach Phil Handy to replace Ham earlier in the season. However, Los Angeles owner Jeanie Buss is a fan of Ham and she has never thought about firing him as head coach, the source said. 

Handy won the 2016 title with LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron, arguably the best player in NBA history, has ignored Ham in many huddles this season and communicated with Handy on what the Lakers should run, the source said. 

Ham started Taurean Prince over Rui Hachimura to begin the season. He even benched D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves.

Ham finally started Russell, Reaves, Hachimura, LeBron and Anthony Davis on February 3 against the New York Knicks and the Lakers played better to close out the regular season. 

Hachimura, like LeBron, trusts Handy over Ham, the source said. And Davis, one of the top defensive players in the NBA, has never been a fan of Ham’s drop coverage defensive tactic, the source said. 

According to NBA insider Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, LeBron “wasn’t happy” with Ham when the Lakers struggled earlier this season. The Lakers went 6-8 in December and 7-8 in January.

LeBron, 39, can become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he declines his 2024-25 player option with the Lakers. A four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP, LeBron said he doesn’t have many years left in the NBA.

“Not very long,” LeBron said when he was asked how long he would play in the NBA. “Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill. I’m not gonna play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure. But not very long. I don’t know when that door will close as far as when I’ll retire. But I don’t have much time left.”

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