The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a really interesting spot at the moment, with plenty of star power but also desperate to see success next season. Their big names couldn't stop the Lakers from missing the play-in tournament last season, and that cost Head Coach Frank Vogel his job. This season, a big bounce back is expected, and making a deep playoff run is as always, the expectation for the Purple and Gold.
Jeanie Buss, the Lakers owner, gave an interview to The Athletic recently, in which she candidly discussed the big questions around her team. She addressed Russell Westbrook, heaping praise on the star, to the surprise of many. She spoke about the decision-making process within the franchise as well, talking about Magic Johnson and Phil Jackson's role in it. It was an interview with great insight into the working of one of the NBA's most storied franchises.
And there was another aspect of the new season she spoke about. The man that has replaced Frank Vogel, Darvin Ham, is known to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was previously an assistant coach with the franchise and now finally has the chance to become a Head Coach. The expectation surrounding the team is massive, but Buss explained that she has faith in him, recounting one of their early meetings.
"You know, Darvin is fearless. He’s strong. It’s for coaches to figure out stuff like this. That’s what makes them coaches. You know, I lived with a coach for 17 years by the name of Phil Jackson. And you know, this is what the challenges are. It isn’t just about putting out a game plan and just letting them take over. It’s about managing personalities.
"And Coach Ham is prepared and fearless when it comes to stuff like that. When Darvin (who was a Lakers assistant from 2011 to 2013) walked into my office that day (after the coaching search), he kind of overwhelmed me with his presence and his confidence in feeling that he was coming back to the Lakers — a place where he knew he could be successful and knew he was needed. (He) brings a strong voice to the table, and I’m excited to watch what he puts together."
His charisma, his intelligence, and his experience will all be important for Ham as he tries to turn around a floundering roster. It's still hard to tell what Russell Westbrook's situation with the team is, although the new coach is excited by the idea of trying to make it work with him. Only time will tell what he is made of, but this is an exciting opportunity for Ham as much as it is a perilous first big break.