The Los Angeles Lakers have found their man.
The Lakers have agreed to a four-year deal with former Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham to be their next head coach, two people with knowledge of the agreement told USA TODAY Sports, concluding a nearly two-month search after the organization parted ways with Frank Vogel after failing to make the playoffs, or even the play-in tournament.
They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the deal until it is official.
Lebron James took to Twitter to congratulate Ham, writing, “So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!”
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Ham, the 48-year-old former Saginaw High star, has been a high-level assistant coach for several seasons, spending the past nine seasons on Mike Budenholzer’s staffs in Atlanta and then Milwaukee, including six consecutive seasons as the lead assistant.
Ham, who won a title as a player with the Detroit Pistons in 2004 and the Bucks as an assistant last season, brings the coveted cachet of being a former player, which is important to many of today’s players.
He also has experience with stars, coaching Giannis Antetokounmpo for the past four seasons. While Ham would be a first-time head coach, he has head coaching experience in the G League where several coaches, including Nick Nurse, Chris Finch, Quin Snyder and Taylor Jenkins, have grown and learned how to run a team.
Budenholzer’s coaching tree has produced other NBA head coaches: Snyder, Jenkins and Kenny Atkinson, and Bucks assistant Charles Lee also is a candidate to become a head coach.
The deal with Ham comes after the Lakers parted ways with Vogel in April after three seasons. Vogel’s contract had been extended last offseason through the 2022-23 season before his firing.
The Lakers finished 2021-22 with a disappointing 33-49 record, well below expectations after the team came into the year with title aspirations following the acquisition of Russell Westbrook. Los Angeles was eliminated from playoff contention before the regular season ended.
In his first season with the team, Vogel had led the Lakers to a championship during the COVID-19-altered 2019-20 season in which L.A. toppled the Miami Heat in the Orlando bubble. But this season marked the second consecutive disappointing finish for the team after the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last year against the eventual Western Conference champion Suns.
Contributing: Lorenzo Reyes