The Lakers have appointed Darvin Hamm as their next coach, sources told The Times on Friday.
The decision came after Hamm met the Lakers on Thursday in Los Angeles, capping a process that began on April 11 when the team Frank Vogel fired Then 33-49 season. The deal is said to be for four years.
Hamm, 48, spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, winning a championship last year. He had eight years in the NBA as a player, and won a title against him Lakers With the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
The Lakers have not announced the rental and declined to comment.
“Very excited,” LeBron James wrote on Twitter Friday night. “Congratulations and welcome to Coach Daham!!”
According to sources familiar with the process, Hamm will be given a great deal of autonomy, including the ability to choose his coaching staff. He is expected to meet current Lakers members next week.
Hamm impressed the Lakers with his ability to communicate and hold people accountable, according to sources, a critical component of their search for Vogel’s replacement.
“In terms of what this team needs right now, we feel that with the superstars on our squad we want a strong voice that is able to inspire players to play at the highest level of competition every night,” general manager Rob Pelinka said after the team fired on Vogel. “And I think that’s going to be one of the resounding qualities we’re looking for in terms of keeping everyone from the best player on our team to the 15th man accountable.”
Sources said the Lakers are hoping to find a candidate who can garner support across the organization, something that was not always the case with Vogel despite winning the 2020 championship.
Sources said the Lakers interviewed former Portland coach Terry Stotts this week and planned to speak to Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson, but after an important meeting Thursday, the Lakers decided they had found their man.
During his ten years as Bucks assistant coach Mike Budenholzer, Hamm built a reputation for his ability to connect players with passion, honesty and competitive leadership. He is considered a good coach with a bit more defensive experience.
Hamm’s trip to the NBA was unlikely, as he only played his final year in high school basketball. He attended Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado, for one season before transferring to Texas Tech.
He achieved some national fame at the 1996 NCAA Championship when he smashed the backboard with a dive against North Carolina State. A photo of the slam landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Hamm went without drafting but signed with Denver, starting his NBA career that included stops in Indiana, Washington, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Detroit. In 417 games, he averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.4 minutes. Hamm also played in Spain and the Philippines.
After working in the developmental league, Hamm began his NBA coaching career with the Lakers as a player development coach in 2011, working with Mike Brown.
In 2013, Hamm went to Atlanta to work for Bodenholzer, and began a relationship with him that would continue to Milwaukee.
His path from high school to the NBA as a longtime role player and assistant gives him a broad base of knowledge as he landed a career in professional basketball.
He will be the 28th coach in Lakers history and the fourth black coach. Hamm is the second coach the Lakers have used for the first time in their last three searches. Former Laker hired Luke Walton in 2016 after his successful stint as assistant and temporary coach at Golden State. Walton went 98-148 with the Lakers.
The hunt for Hamm’s ground has been largely uneventful, a change from the drama-filled process of replacing Walton in 2019. During that process, one of the candidates, Monty Williams, chose to take over the Phoenix Suns coaching job. Another, Tyronn Lue, was unable to agree with the Lakers on key points such as salary, contract length and coaching staff decisions.
Initially, league sources believed that the Lakers would chase well-known coaches such as Quinn Snyder of Utah, Nick Nurse of Toronto and Doc Rivers of Philadelphia. However, all three are under contract, and with little capital, the Lakers lacked the compensation to get a coach from another team.
Sources said Snyder was not interested in a move to the Lakers. While Rivers appeared to be a serious option for some Lakers decision-makers, 76ers president Daryl Morey said Rivers will remain with the team after being eliminated from the playoffs by Miami.
Michigan coach Joanne Howard, who interviewed the Lakers in 2019, was never a serious choice due to his desire to stay with Wolverine to coach his two sons.
In their research, the team spoke with Hamm, Stutts and Atkinson, former NBA coach Mark Jackson, Milwaukee assistant Charles Lee and Toronto assistant Adrian Griffin before tightening the search on Hamm, Stutts and Atkinson.
“Student. Incurable problem solver. Amateur baconaholic. Introvert. Infuriatingly humble music fanatic.”