Skip to content

5 candidates to replace Darvin Ham with Lakers


The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham after two seasons in charge.

Ham amassed a 90-74 record and led the team to the Western Conference finals last season, though that wasn't enough to keep the former nine-year NBA veteran at the helm of a team laser-focused on making the most of LeBron James' increasingly fleeting tenure with the team.

With the Lakers facing a slew of offseason decisions, here's a look at five candidates for their head coaching position:

Mike Budenholzer

Career record as NBA head coach: 484-317

An NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks (2021) and two-time Coach of the Year with the Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, Mike Budenholzer was among a quartet of names reportedly linked to the Lakers' vacancy by The Athletics' Shams Charania. Budenholzer, 54, was fired by Milwaukee in May 2023 following a first-round playoff exit.

Budenholzer's teams have been known for rebounding, defending the basket, and thriving from beyond the arc. It's anticipated that Budenholzer will be a top candidate for any coaching vacancy this offseason, though it's possible the Lakers view him and Ham, his former assistant, as one and the same.

Terry Stotts

Steph Chambers / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Career Record: 517-486

Stotts is a veteran, experienced leader who made the playoffs in his last eight seasons leading the Portland Trail Blazers. But he's also 66 and was swept in his only conference finals appearance. Stotts has been away from coaching since being let go by the Blazers after the 2020-21 campaign. He was slated to be a lead Bucks assistant this season but resigned before the campaign.

Largely known for his offensive coaching style, Stotts led the Blazers to a top-three offensive rating during his last three campaigns. However, despite many clutch moments from superstar Damian Lillard, their defense largely led to a lack of postseason success. With the Lakers' fickle roster, a one-sided coach may be a tough sell.

Kenny Atkinson

Career record: 118-190

Atkinson's record doesn't exactly scream championship pedigree. The 56-year-old inherited a tough situation at his lone head coaching stop yet managed to put the Brooklyn Nets back on track with his outstanding player development. D'Angelo Russell, in particular, became an All-Star and finished second in Most Improved Player voting in 2018-19 under Atkinson's guidance.

Russell holds a player option for next season and has been involved in trade rumors for a potential third star alongside James and Anthony Davis. But should Russell remain on L.A.'s roster, maximizing his skill set would go a long way in easing the load on the Lakers' star duo.

Tyronn Lue

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

Career record: 312-217

Although the Los Angeles Clippers reportedly want to sign Tyronn Lue to an extension, he'd be an ideal candidate for the Lakers' vacancy. The Clippers have yet to reach the NBA Finals since Lue's arrival in 2020, so the two sides could decide to part ways if they suffer another first-round exit this season.

The Lakers were close to securing the championship-winning coach's services in 2019, but the two parties couldn't agree on optimal terms. Having Lue switch sides to the Clippers' storied foe would also be great for LeBron James, as the pair won the 2016 NBA Finals together.

JJ Redick

Career record: 0-0

Hiring Redick would be the boldest move, especially since Ham was also a first-time NBA head coach. But Ham at least had over a decade of experience as an assistant in the Association, along with a brief stint as the lead man for a G League team. Redick would be jumping into arguably the league's most high-pressure situation with zero professional coaching experience.

It's hard to envision James, in the twilight of his storied career, backing a rookie coach. But the two share a unique relationship as co-hosts of the "Mind the Game" podcast. Redick's podcasting work has showcased his tremendous understanding of the game and reportedly earned him multiple head coaching interviews over the past few offseasons.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox