Will the Lakers fire Darvin Ham? LA ‘committed’ to head coach despite reports of locker room issues

Trouble is brewing in Los Angeles.

Since winning the inaugural In-Season Tournament title, the Lakers have dropped 11 of their last 16 games and sit at 19-20 as the 2023-24 season nears its midway point. As a result, head coach Darvin Ham’s seat appears to be getting quite warm.

On Jan. 4, Jovan Buha and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that “there’s currently a deepening disconnect between Darvin Ham and the Lakers locker room,” citing six sources familiar with the situation. However, TNT Sports’ Chris Haynes followed up with a report on Jan. 12 that the Lakers “remain committed” to Ham.

According to Haynes, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka have provided Ham with assurance that his job is not in jeopardy.

While it was believed that six sources supporting a similar notion would spell doom for Ham’s future on the sideline in LA, the conflicting report suggests that he may not be on the way out so soon. Here are what the latest rumors mean for the Lakers moving forward.

MORE: LeBron James gives blunt assessment of Lakers’ current struggles

Will the Lakers fire Darvin Ham?

The report from Buha and Charania came less than 12 hours after LA suffered a 14-point home loss to a Jimmy Butler-less Miami team. The confounding defeat was the worst possible way for the Lakers to open up a stretch in which they would play nine of their next 10 games in Los Angeles.

Haynes’ report would come over a week later as LA closed a five-game homestand with an 18-point loss to Phoenix on national television. The Lakers finished the homestand with a 2-3 record, with wins over the Clippers and Raptors sandwiched in between losses to the Heat, Grizzlies and Suns.

According to the sources who spoke to Buha and Charania under the condition of anonymity, the disconnect in the Lakers’ locker room stems from Ham’s extreme adjustments to Los Angeles’ rotation and starting lineup.

This season, Ham has made a few notable lineup moves. Among them is the choice to move Austin Reaves to the bench nine games into the season in favor of Cam Reddish and, more recently, the decision to move D’Angelo Russell to the bench to slide LeBron James into a point guard role.

With the Lakers in New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Dec. 31, Ham opted for a starting unit of James, Anthony Davis, Rui Hachimura, Taurean Prince and Jarred Vanderbilt, a choice that raised eyebrows as all five players are forwards.

The result was a 20-point loss at the hands of the same team that LA embarrassed in the Semifinals of the In-Season Tournament.

Following the loss in New Orleans, James offered a not-so-subtle endorsement of Reaves returning to the starting lineup, telling reporters, “Austin’s great. I like Austin no matter where he is. Obviously, it’s always great to be on the floor with him.

“No matter if he’s coming off the bench or if he’s starting. I just love being on the floor with him. He makes plays.”

WATCH: Follow LeBron James and the Lakers all season long on Sling TV

As trade rumors swirled and discontent with the team’s record grew, Ham offered an optimistic outlook ahead of LA’s date with Miami on Jan. 3, saying, “We were 14-20 at this time last year. So, we’ve seen it. It’s not as extreme, it’s definitely uncomfortable.

“Being 17-17, having a couple of days after the New Year to get focused on ourselves … Basically came to the conclusion that there’s more than enough in the room.”

In the loss to the Suns, the Lakers opted for a starting lineup of Reaves, Reddish, James, Prince and Davis. An injury to Reddish altered the rotation at the half, putting Vanderbilt with the starting unit to open the third quarter.

James finished with a season-low 10 points and Davis was limited to 13 points while D’Angelo Russell led the team with 19 points. With that in mind, Haynes’ report suggests that the team’s focus is upgrading its backcourt.

“I speak to Rob every day, and we’re always discussing ways to improve our team and what we can do better as a coaching staff,” Ham told Haynes after the loss. “It’s an open dialogue that I embrace and that is helpful. We’re all trying to get this right, and we will.”

With the Feb. 8 trade deadline looming, there is now a race against the clock for the Lakers to make changes.

Darvin Ham contract and salary

In the 2022 offseason, Ham agreed to a four-year deal to become the Lakers head coach. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is estimated that Ham is earning between $3 and $5 million annually.

Darvin Ham coaching record

Darvin Ham is 62-59 in his first 121 games as the Lakers head coach.

After leading the Lakers from the Play-In Tournament to the Western Conference Finals in 2023, Ham is 9-8 in postseason games and 8-8 in the NBA Playoffs.


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