Lakers coaching search: Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts and Kenny Atkinson enter latest round of interviews, reports say

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The Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly narrowed their head coaching search to three candidates. Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts qualified for the final round of interviews, according to ESPN. Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson was also named a finalist, by The Athletic. Of the finalists, The Athletic reports that Ham appears to have made the strongest impression

All three candidates have been hot commodities in the coaching market, as the Charlotte Hornets have also shown interest. However, the Lakers’ job may be more appealing if only for the fact that LA has the makings of a championship contender in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Although Los Angeles struggled a lot last season, mostly due to injuries and the failed experience of Russell Westbrook, the Lakers should be in contention next season if they can improve their game. alignment this summer.

If Ham were to get the job, it would be his first head coaching gig in the league. He has been with the Bucks since 2018, after Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks. Meanwhile, Ham has been an integral part of Budenholzer’s coaching staff, helping lead the Bucks to a championship last season and assisting in the development of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Ham has held several head coaching positions in the past but has yet to land one.

Stotts has not coached since parting ways with the Portland Trail Blazers after the 2020-21 season. During his time there, he helped lead them to the Western Conference Finals and only missed the playoffs once in his nine-year tenure. Prior to that, he was part of the coaching staff that helped bring the Dallas Mavericks a championship in 2011. He’s an offensive-oriented coach, which could help a Lakers team that ranked 22nd of the league in terms of offensive rating. However, Stotts was criticized for his teams consistently ranking near the bottom of the league in defense, which he could easily address by supplementing the rest of his coaching staff with defensive minds.

Atkinson has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, and he currently serves in the same role with the Warriors. Prior to that, he coached the Brooklyn Nets for four seasons where his coaching record improved in each of his first three seasons. Atkinson was let go after the 2019-20 season in part because of personality clashes between Atkinson, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The Lakers are expected to conduct another round of interviews with these three candidates in Los Angeles in the near future, according to The Athletic.

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