Lakers manager search: Darvin Ham, Terry Stotts, Kenny Atkinson enter latest round of interviews, according to reports

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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 manager Terry Stotts moved on to the final round of interviews, according to ESPN. Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson was also named a finalist, for Atletico. All three nominees were hot commodities on the coaching market, as were the Charlotte Hornets he also had an interest in them also.

However, the Lakers’ job might be more tempting if only for the fact that Los Angeles has the characteristics of a championship contender with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Although Los Angeles struggled hard last season mainly due to injuries and the Russell Westbrook experiment didn’t work, the Lakers should be contenders next season if they can make any moves to improve their roster this summer.

If Ham were to get the job, it would be his first head coach gig in the league. He has been with the Bucks since 2018, following Milwaukee manager Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks. At the time, Ham was a key figure on 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 worked for several head coaching jobs in the past but is yet to land one.

Stotts hasn’t coached since separating from the Portland Trail Blazers after the 2020-21 season. During his time there, he helped guide them to the Western Conference Finals and only missed the playoffs once during his nine-year term. Previously he was on the coaching staff who helped lead a championship to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. He is an offensive-oriented manager, something that could help a Lakers team that finished 22nd in the league by offensive rating. However, Stotts has been criticized for his teams always ranking at the bottom of the standings in defense, something he could easily tackle by filling the rest of his coaching staff with defensive minds.

Atkinson has spent the past two seasons as assistant manager with the Los Angeles Clippers and currently holds the same role with the Warriors. He previously led the Brooklyn Nets for four seasons, where his managerial record improved in each of his first three seasons. Atkinson was fired after the 2019-20 season in part due to the personality clash 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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