After moving at a snail’s pace in the immediate aftermath of the season, the Lakers' head coaching search is picking up some momentum. The team appears set to interview one of the top assistant coaches in the league and a reigning NBA champion. They also appear set to NOT interview — or at the very least, not seriously consider — one of the most divisive candidates in the open market right now as well.
Also, as the team looks to move on from Russell Westbrook via potential trade, one name they’ve been linked to and interested in doesn’t seem likely to be included in any deal this offseason.
Let’s take a look at the latest reports and headlines.
Lakers get permission to interview Darvin Ham
The Lakers have been given permission to interview Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Friday afternoon.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN last week, the Lakers plan to take things slow with their coaching search, which is why there has been such little noise about it.
Ham, though, checks a lot of boxes for what the Lakers have said they’re looking for in their next leader. He is also is a qualified coach that is sought after in the market, and seems like the next assistant coach in waiting to get a head coaching job.
As of now, there is no publicly known date for when the Lakers will interview Ham. With the Bucks currently in the middle of a playoff series, the timing may be tricky, and the two sides could potentially wait until the conclusion of the series, depending on just how slow the Lakers want to go.
Mark Jackson is a longshot for the Lakers job
No matter how slow the team takes the search, it doesn’t appear that it will include Mark Jackson as a viable option. Veteran NBA insider Marc Stein provided that update in his most recent Substack post on the league’s coaching carousel, starting with a number of rumored names that aren’t in the equation right now.
Michigan’s Juwan Howard is known to hold James’ respect after their time together in Miami but is said to be firm in his desire to stay with the Wolverines to coach sons Jace and Jett. Toronto’s Nick Nurse and Snyder — also frequently cited as candidates for the post — are not currently available, so pursuing them (or others under contract) comes with complications.
Quin Snyder has been a name mentioned as a candidate because of Utah’s constant failings and underperforming which might make him available, though that does not appear to be the case. And even if he is available, it may be a bit until he is up for a job interview process, or even sorts out his future.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder will undergo hip replacement surgery tomorrow, according to the team. The operation was originally scheduled for June, but Snyder decided to get it done now.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 3, 2022
Nick Nurse also effectively took himself out of the running (at least for now) on Monday morning during his exit interview with the Raptors.
Juwan Howard has close ties to LeBron James dating back to their time together in Miami and was someone the Lakers previously interviewed, but as Stein notes, is widely expected to remain in college to coach his sons.
Jackson is indeed on the Lakers’ list if he doesn’t get the Sacramento job, but I don’t get the sense — yet — that he has a strong chance in L.A.
Realistically, it’s hard to imagine an option much worse than Jackson. The cons are many, and can be simplified to just how good the Warriors became the moment he left the franchise. The singular pro, though, would be that he could no longer call games on ESPN, at least.
Pacers plan to keep Myles Turner, a former Lakers trade target
The Lakers’ pursuit of a Russell Westbrook trade is going to center on a number of teams, the Indiana Pacers being one of them. Interestingly, a player the team has long been tied to is current Pacer big man Myles Turner. But while there could be a way, in theory, that the Lakers could offload Westbrook and look to land Turner as part of the package, it does not sound like something that is all that likely.
Stein reported in another recent Substack column that the Pacers are looking to hold onto Turner moving forward.
On Monday morning, Myles Turner tweeted out his excitement about his future in Indiana after missing the Pacers’ final 39 games this season because of a foot injury. Sources say that the Pacers do hope to keep Turner long-term after they previously weighed Turner-centric trades going back to last summer. Indiana instead traded former All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento; Turner has one season left on his current contract at $18 million.
Here is the tweet referenced by Stein:
With Domantas Sabonis being traded at the deadline this past February, it makes sense now that the team would look to hold onto Turner now with their frontcourt cleared up.
Generally speaking, though, it sounds like the Pacers won’t be too gung-ho to make a move for Westbrook. As appealing as Westbrook’s expiring deal could be to certain teams, as we discussed in our recent podcast with Indy Star Pacers beat writer James Boyd, the Pacers don’t appear to be one of the teams interested in acquiring the enigmatic point guard.