Before shifting the focus towards the draft and free agency, Los Angeles Lakers new head coach Darvin Ham is working to put his staff together for the 2022-23 season.
Shortly after Ham was hired, it was reported that he had offered positions to current Lakers assistants Phil Handy and Quinton Crawford. While both were thought to have accepted, Crawford will actually be leaving to join Jason Kidd’s staff on the Dallas Mavericks.
With only Handy known to be on Ham’s staff, there are still many spots to be handed out, including the top assistant coach job.
While it was originally reported that the Lakers were looking for someone with past head coaching experience to pair with the first-time coach in Ham, it appears he has a different idea.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers are hiring Atlanta Hawks assistant Chris Jent to be the top assistant on Ham’s staff:
The Lakers are hiring Atlanta Hawks assistant Chris Jent to become the top assistant coach, sources tell ESPN. New coach Darvin Ham recruited Jent over the past week to lead his staff. Jent has a strong history with LeBron James from early Cleveland years.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 18, 2022
While Jent doesn’t have past head coaching experience, he does have a familiarity with both Ham and Lakers star LeBron James.
Jent has been an assistant in the NBA since 2003 and was with the Cavaliers along with James from 2006-2011. The 52-year-old has been with the Hawks since 2017, including when Mike Budenholzer was the head coach and Ham was an assistant.
He now gets his first opportunity as a top assistant as Ham’s staff is starting to come together with Jent and Handy now on board.
Ham visits with Bertka
In the Lakers organization, there is a wealth of knowledge beyond the coaching staff that Ham will have at his disposal if he chooses. That includes the legendary Bill Bertka, who at 94 years old is still in the Lakers’ practice facility.
Bertka was present for a recent pre-draft workout, visiting with Ham and likely giving the first-time head coach some tips for his new job.
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