The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham after the team was eliminated from the 2024 NBA Playoffs in a 106-108 Game 5 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Ham coached in L.A. for two seasons, leading the team to an overall record of 90-74 in the regular season and 9-12 in the playoffs. The Lakers did reach the Western Conference Finals as a seventh seed in the 2022-23 season but failed to make it out of the first round this year. In December, Ham also led Los Angeles in winning the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament.

“We greatly appreciate Darvin Ham’s efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognize the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons, including last year’s remarkable run to the Western Conference finals,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement. “We all want to thank Darvin for this dedication and positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season. The organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-caliber basketball to Lakers fans around the world.”

The loss to the Nuggets comes particularly harsh for the Lakers, as they have fallen to Denver in the last two playoffs. L.A. only had one victory in nine total playoff games and only beat the Nuggets in only three of 10 regular season games since Ham arrived with the team.

In the most recent series, the Lakers fumbled four 20-point leads to the Nuggets, losing all of those games while being outscored by a total of 44 points in the second halves of each game. LeBron James averaged 27.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists, while Anthony Davis had 27.8 points, 15.6 rebounds and four assists a game. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop a comeback from Nikola JokicJamal Murray and the Nuggets almost every game. James and Davis played their most total collective games since they joined powers in 2018, but it was only enough for a No. 7 seed and first-round loss. Murray also had two buzzer-beaters in the series as the Nuggets won in five games but with only a plus-11 scoring differential throughout the five games.

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“It’s been a hell of a two years … I’ll tell you that,” Ham said after the Lakers were eliminated. “Sitting in this seat, it’s been a hell of a two years. A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately, you want to win that ultimate prize.”

Ham arrived with the Lakers in 2022, replacing head coach Frank Vogel, who won a championship with the team in 2020. Since that championship-winning run, Los Angeles has a combined record of 165-153 in the regular season, only making it past the first round of the playoffs once. Besides James and Davis, the Lakers have had a rotating cast of supporting players, and their lack of bench chemistry and depth could also be a factor in their lack of success and coaching.

Despite new players coming in and out not producing the results they have wanted, Los Angeles is set to have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA next season. They will owe a combined $70 million to Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Jared Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent, and the combined $94 million James and Davis are set to make. All of those players except James and Russell are locked down for the next two seasons, but as seen in the past, the Lakers won’t be afraid to make moves in the offseason or through trades.

As the head coach for only two years, Ham never had more than an entire season with the same players. Once he did have a set roster, he led the Lakers to the fifth-best record in the league from February to the end of the regular season, but even that wasn’t enough to keep his job.

Now, the Lakers are looking for a new head coach. Mike Budenholzer, Tryonn Lue and even JJ Redick have all been rumored to be their potential targets. Whoever it will be, like any coach for the Lakers, expectations will be high. James’ future with the team is also in question, as he said in the final press conference that he had seriously thought about retirement but had also given credence to the idea of playing with his son, Bronny James. He only has one year left on his current contract.

A few hours after Ham’s termination was announced, the Lakers announced that they would fire their entire coaching staff, including assistant coach Phil Handy.

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