A prestigious position like Los Angeles Lakers head coach can be daunting — regardless if it’s someone’s first time as the lead man or not. Naturally, those concerns hovered around Darvin Ham’s hire before Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka pushed them aside.
Pelinka pointed to current coaches in the NBA to highlight his confidence in Ham. First-time head coaches have had tremendous success recently.
Since 2015, three have won the NBA Championship: Steve Kerr (2015), Tyronn Lue (2016) and Nick Nurse (2019). With the Boston Celtics currently up 2-1 in the NBA Finals, it could surely be four in seven seasons if Ime Udoka and the Celtics hold on.
Therefore, when the question came up regarding the Lakers’ worries about Ham being a first-time head coach, Pelinka didn’t share them.
“I think you can look at the NBA Finals right now. Coach Kerr and Coach Udoka, those are both first-time coaches,” Pelinka said. “And when you go through an interview process and come across someone that’s incredible talented, especially with unique characteristics are perfectly aligned with what you’re looking for for this team, that becomes a moot point.
“I think the guys in the NBA Finals deserve praise for starting line they did and getting all the way to where they are now. We have full confidence that that’s what Darvin’s story is gonna look like here.”
Pelinka said Ham was the unanimous choice for the head coach. He blew them away during interviews, so much so that the Lakers skipped Kenny Atkinson’s final interview.
The pressure of leading the Purple and Gold isn’t enough to cut Ham either — he pointed to a moment growing up that made him fearless during his introductory press conference.
Historically, the Lakers have had success with first-time head coaches. Before Kerr, the last first-time head coach to win a title was Pat Riley in 1982. Before Riley, it was Paul Westhead when he took over for Jack McKinney in 1980. Frank Vogel even won a championship in his first season as Lakers’ lead man.
Ham will hope to join that elusive club next June.
Ham names Rasheed Wallace as a candidate to join the Lakers’ coaching staff
Technical fouls for the Lakers may increase next season as Rasheed Wallace is rumored to be someone Ham is looking at to be part of his staff.
Wallace spent the previous season as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis with Penny Hardaway. He was also an assistant with the Detroit Pistons during the 2013-2014 season.
Wallace, however, hasn’t officially been hired yet.
“In regards to Rasheed, that’s an active situation. That’s fluid,” Ham said. “We’re still working through that. That’s not true at all, but he’s definitely a candidate that we’ll take a look at. But we’re working through that.”
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