Source: Lakers Players Wanted Phil Handy To Replace Darvin Ham As Coach

The 2023-24 regular season is almost over for the Los Angeles Lakers, who have two games left against the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. All signs point toward the Lakers (45-35) participating in the NBA play-in tournament for the third time in four years. 

Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Rumors, Phil Handy
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The Lakers are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings. However, the Golden State Warriors (44-35) are only a half-game back of LA for ninth place and own the tiebreaker. 

If the Lakers finish the regular season in ninth or 10th place, they will need to win two play-in games in a row to make the 2024 playoffs as the eighth seed.

Despite having LeBron James and Anthony Davis, two of the best players in the NBA, Los Angeles doesn’t look like a title contender and head coach Darvin Ham deserves a lot of the blame. His lineups, offensive and defensive schemes, rotations and habit of closing quarters with LeBron on the bench have irked Lakers players all season. 

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 coach, the source said. 

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

The Lakers are eighth in the NBA in points per game, 23rd in points per game allowed and 19th in net rating. 

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 Davis on February 3 against the New York Knicks. The Lakers have taken off since then, going 20-10. 

However, Ham waited too long to start his five best players and that decision has come back to haunt him.

Hachimura is another player who 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. 

Even if the Lakers make the 2024 playoffs, players are expected to speak with general manager Rob Pelinka about Ham’s future during exit meetings, the source said. 

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