Lakers part ways with Darvin Ham after 2 seasons

After two roller-coaster seasons, Darvin Ham’s time as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers has come to an end. 

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Ham’s dismissal comes after the Lakers lost in five games to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs on Monday night. Coincidentally, it’s the same team that swept them in the Western Conference Finals last season.

Lakers Vice President Rob Pelinka issued the following statement late Friday morning: 

"We greatly appreciate Darvin's efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognize the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons, including last year's remarkable run to the Western Conference Finals. We all want to thank Darvin for his dedication to positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season. The organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-caliber basketball to Lakers fans around the world."

In Ham's tenure, the Lakers went 90-74. He is the first Lakers coach to not return after making it to the playoffs since Phil Jackson in 2011, ESPN research producer Matt Williams reported. 

There were signs a storm was brewing throughout the playoffs. 

After Game 2's heartbreaking loss, Lakers star Anthony Davis seemingly shaded his now-former coach. "We have stretches where we don’t know what we’re doing on both ends of the floor," he said. 

When asked about Davis’ comments the following day at practice, Ham said "I just chalk that up to being frustrated. It’s an emotional game, with the way it ended and all that. But I would agree to disagree on that one." 

Darvin Ham speaks to the media during a press conference at UCLA Health Training Center on June 06, 2022 in El Segundo, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

LeBron James was also noticeably upset after they blew a 20-point lead in Game 2, capped by Jamal Murray’s buzzer-beater. After questioning the game’s officiating, he cut the interview short and walked out. 

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The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Game 2 was the "final straw" for Ham. 

The Lakers were off to a promising start during Game 3, but the momentum was unstable, and the game got completely away from them in the second half. In the fourth quarter, "Fire Darvin Ham!" chants erupted inside the Arena and D’Angelo Russell didn’t even bother joining his teammates in a huddle during the game's final minutes. 

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During Game 4, cameras were rolling as James appeared to yell at Ham on the sidelines.

Finally, in Game 4, the Lakers snapped their 11-game losing streak against the defending champions. Despite a hard fight, another Jamal Murray buzzer-beater ended their season in Game 5.

It would be unfair to pinpoint the Lakers' struggles on one man entirely. One person who came to Ham's defense was NBA legend and TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley, who bluntly stated his views about the Lakers and Suns' first-round exits. 

 "A lot of these people on television, they’re cowards because they want the players to like them. They don’t want to do their job, which is to tell the truth," Barkley said on "Inside the NBA" this week.

Barkley continued to say, "I just want to say this about coaching. Anybody who thinks the reason the Lakers suck is because of Darvin Ham or the reason the Suns suck is because of Frank Vogel, you don’t know what you’re talking about…Darvin Ham is a hell of a coach trying to get his career started."

"The Lakers suck and the Suns suck because of the player. It has nothing to do with the coaches," he concluded. 

Ham took the coveted position after the Lakers fired Frank Vogel in April 2022.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Frank Vogel out as Lakers head coach after 3 seasons

Ham played in the NBA for eight seasons and won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. 

His NBA coaching career began in 2011 as an assistant coach for the Lakers, a position he also held with the Hawks and Bucks. While in Milwaukee, he won his second ring in 2021. 

The Lakers now begin the search for their 29th coach in franchise history.