The Lakers slow, deliberate search for a head coach is now moving forward into the next stage. Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and current Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson all are reportedly moving on as finalists in the process, according to multiple reports.
Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts are among candidates who've advanced to the final round of interviews for the Los Angeles Lakers’ coaching job, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2022
Sources confirmed that Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham has moved on to second round of interviews for Lakers head coaching job vacancy.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) May 20, 2022
Sources: Finalists for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job: Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts. Next stage of interviews are expected to take place in-person in Los Angeles.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2022
Both Ham and Stotts were among the first candidates interviewed by the Lakers as their search began. That process began when the Lakers reportedly asked for permission to interview Ham back on April 30. The team also reportedly interviewed Stotts a week later on May 6.
Atkinson was one of the final candidates interviewed during the initial stages. Along with that trio, the team has interviewed a number of candidates, most of them assistants around the league, before circling in on their finalists.
Ham has long been considered one of the top assistants in the league and one of the next head coaches in waiting. A former Lakers assistant from 2011 to 2013, Ham has served under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee for the near decade since leaving Los Angeles.
Stotts, meanwhile, is a more known quantity after 13 seasons as a head coach across the league, including nine in Portland from 2012 until 2021. He would offer quite the change to the Lakers with his strengths coming offensively, a 180-degree turn for the franchise after three seasons led by Frank Vogel.
Atkinson’s reputation as a player-development coach comes from his days in Brooklyn where he helped turn the franchise around from a lottery team to a playoff side. Only butting heads with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spelled the end of his time with the Nets, a disagreement that centered around Atkinson’s desire to play Jarrett Allen over DeAndre Jordan.
With Philadelphia committing its future to Doc Rivers and Quin Snyder committing his future to Utah, two of the reported top targets for the Lakers came off the board. The Lakers’ slow approach was at least somewhat fueled by their interest in the two veteran coaches.
Milwaukee’s elimination from the playoffs may have also played a role in the Lakers either interviewing fellow Bucks assistant Charles Lee and/or moving forward in the process with the playoffs no longer serving as a hurdle during the interview process for the candidates the Lakers appear most interested in.
The only deadline the Lakers have set to have a new head coach by is the 2022 NBA draft, which lands on June 23. Even by the team’s slow and deliberate standards so far, it feels safe to say a head coach will not only be hired by then, but in the rather near future overall.