Three finalists have been named for the next Los Angeles Lakers head coach. After Frank Vogel was fired just two seasons after winning the NBA Championship, there has been much speculation as to who could lead the Lakers back to the playoffs.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the finalists via Twitter on Friday afternoon.
Sources: Finalists for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job: Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts. Next stage of interviews are expected to take place in-person in Los Angeles.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2022
As a player, Darvin Ham played for six NBA teams and a few foreign leagues and semi-pro organizations. He won the NBA Championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He began his coaching career in 2008 with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, which was the G-League team with whom he last played.
Ham moved from assistant coach to head coach of that team (re-named the New Mexico Thunderbirds, currently the Cleveland Charge). From 2010-2011, Ham held that position before moving to the big leagues as a Lakers assistant for two years. In 2013, he became the assistant coach of the Atlanta Hawks, holding that position for six seasons.
Then, in 2018, Ham became a Bucks assistant coach, which he rode to an NBA title in 2021. Given his wealth of assistant experience and experience with the Lakers themselves, them making him a finalist makes complete sense.
Atkinson had a long career bouncing around European leagues and G-League teams. In fact, he played from 1990 until 2004.
Much like Ham, Atkinson became the assistant coach of the last team for which he played, Paris Basket Racing. He held that position for three seasons before becoming a Knicks assistant head coach. Then, he moved to Atlanta, then Brooklyn, then Los Angeles (Clippers). He became the Warriors’ assistant head coach in 2021, so he has none of the rings from the Warriors’ dynasty.
However, in 2021, Atkinson helped lead the Warriors back to the playoffs and, as of now, the Western Conference Finals. He could have another ring by the time the 2022 playoffs wrap up. After his interview, he could be coaching Golden State’s rival, the Lakers, which could give the Lake show a step up on Stephen Curry and company.
Stotts started his coaching career in the NBA G-League with Albany in 1990. He didn’t last long in the minor leagues, though, earning an assistant coaching position with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1992. He held that position until 1998, then bounced around the league to Milwaukee, Atlanta, Golden State, and Dallas. He won an NBA Championship in 2011 during his stint with the Mavericks.
That championship won him the Portland Trail Blazers head coaching position in 2012. Stotts would own that job until 2021, when he was let go. He coached 1,003 games with Portland, going 517-486 during his 10 seasons. During the 2018-2019 season, he led the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals, but lost to the Warriors’ dynasty. He could now return to the Western Conference as LeBron and the Lakers’ head coach.
Featured image courtesy of Steph Chambers/Getty Images
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