Darvin Ham embraces challenge as Lakers’ rookie head coach

New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham arrives for his first news conference in El Segundo, Calif., Monday, June 6, 2022. (David Crane/The Orange County Register via AP)

New Los Angeles Lakers head mentor Darvin Ham arrives for his 1st information meeting in El Segundo, Calif., Monday, June 6, 2022. (David Crane/The Orange County Sign up by means of AP)

AP

Darvin Ham recognizes the enormity of the endeavor he is enterprise with the Los Angeles Lakers, and this very first-time head coach is not intimidated.

Ham is expected to instantly return a veteran-laden, oddly constructed roster to championship rivalry. He ought to create a new philosophy and instill a group identity around 37-calendar year-previous LeBron James, oft-wounded Anthony Davis and polarizing guard Russell Westbrook, who won’t look to be heading anywhere this summer season.

Which is a daunting purchase for any coach, enable alone a newcomer to the around the world highlight that illuminates each shift by the 17-time NBA champion Lakers.

But the 48-year-old Ham is no common rookie, as he demonstrated consistently Monday even though becoming released as the 28th head mentor in franchise historical past.

“I grew up in Saginaw, Michigan,” Ham explained. “I was shot in the confront by incident, April 5, 1988. You go via a little something like that, it can be going to do one of two matters: It is heading to make you fearful or fearless. It designed me fearless. I you should not really feel no force. It is really basketball.”

Ham’s conversation techniques and management ended up amongst the belongings that gained him a single of the best-profile coaching employment in North American athletics. The previous NBA position player also radiates a self-assured toughness that was promptly identified by Lakers normal manager Rob Pelinka and the committee that picked him to consider around for Frank Vogel, who was fired in April just after Los Angeles skipped the postseason.

Ham could have mainly the same roster as Vogel did past season, significantly on prime — but the Lakers think he can get a lot more out of this odd combine. Los Angeles went 33-49 past season although James and Davis both equally battled important harm problems and their supporting cast was mostly ineffective, specifically on defense.

Ham focused on the honor of coaching a roster that could have virtually a fifty percent-dozen of the most effective players of this period, together with Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard — even if none of that group is probable in its key.

“I feel (the) sky’s the limit,” Ham stated. “We’re not placing a ceiling on our scenario. We’ll go as far as our every day preparing usually takes us … and the items we’re likely to do in that every day approach will direct us to the type of good results that this franchise and town has been accustomed to.”

The Lakers went 33-49 last period, wildly underachieving following commencing the year with championship aspirations. They’re 75-79 in the two seasons given that winning a title in the Florida bubble in the course of Vogel’s 1st period in demand.

James is continue to a force, while Davis’ very poor overall health can make him only a part-time participant — but Westbrook’s regularly dismal play was the focal position of most Lakers fans’ discontent final year. The previous league MVP scored a paltry 18.5 details for each match when battling with turnovers, lacking much far too a lot of midrange jumpers and playing intermittently targeted protection in his to start with year with his hometown crew.

Westbrook, who hardly ever meshed with Vogel, has one 12 months and just over $47 million still left on his contract. Although quite a few supporters would appreciate to see him go away in a trade, the guard absolutely seems to be returning this fall.

He was just one of 4 present-day Lakers who attended Ham’s news conference, listening intently together with Stanley Johnson, Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel.

Ham seems to be determined to make it perform with Westbrook.

“Absolutely,” Ham stated when questioned if Westbrook was in his strategies. “Don’t get it messed up: Russell is a person of the ideal gamers our league has at any time viewed, and there is however a ton still left in that tank. I will not know why individuals have a tendency to attempt to compose him off. I am heading to approach him like every single player I’ve ever encountered.”

Ham stated he has previously had numerous conversations with Westbrook about the forthcoming season, and he plainly thinks he can persuade Westbrook to be even a lot more of a team participant.

“The greatest word that came out of those conversations was ‘sacrifice,’” Ham reported. “We’re heading to sacrifice whatsoever we have acquired to do, and it is not just Russ. It can be going to be sacrifices that LeBron has to make, that Advert has to make, on down the line via the relaxation of our roster.

“We have to start off on the defensive conclude. I’m anticipating him to be the very same tenacious, substantial-energy player that he is been his complete vocation. A good deal of it now might come about without the need of the ball in his hand. Most of it may occur on the defensive close, but we have to sacrifice. There is no attaining anything with out all get-togethers sharing the load, sacrificing and depending on a person another.”

Ham carved out an 8-12 months taking part in occupation and even received a ring in Detroit by dedicating himself to a cerebral, complementary job. He was a natural for a coaching profession, and he was on the Lakers’ workers as a development coach from 2011-13 in advance of currently being hired by Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta.

They went collectively five decades later on to Milwaukee, wherever Ham won a different championship as Budenholzer’s direct assistant in 2021. Ham only choked up at the time through his Lakers news convention, and it took place when he expressed gratitude for Budenholzer’s mentoring and friendship.

“At the very least you dropped me off the place you picked me up at,” Ham stated with a chortle.

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