Lakers coach Darwin Hamm on early playoff exit after 2 seasons: sources

By Shams Sarania, Jovan Buha and Jenna West

The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Darwin Hamm after his second season with the team, which ended Monday in a first-round playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets, the organization announced Friday. Sources briefed on the matter say an extensive search will soon begin with candidates such as Mike Budenholzer, Kenny Atkinson, JJ Redick and, if he becomes available, Ty Lue.

Rumors of Hamm’s possible firing intensified deep into the Lakers’ season and seemed inevitable when they won just one game in their best-of-seven playoff series against the Nuggets. The Lakers’ lowest moment came in Game 2 of the series when they blew a 20-point lead in the second half.

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After a successful first year as coach, he showed signs as a leader, and the tide turned for Hamm this season. There was great respect for Hamm as a person, and players praised his pro career and his time as an assistant coach in Atlanta and Milwaukee. But the players struggled due to lack of effective guidance from the coaching staff.

After Game 2 against the Nuggets, Lakers forward Anthony Davis said, “We had stretches where we didn’t know what we were doing on both ends of the floor.”

Hamm responded two days later in training and defended his training results and the staff.

“I don’t think it’s (about) being organized,” Hamm said. “I think I have an incredible amount of knowledge and focus throughout my staff. We pride ourselves — whether it’s training, shoots, film sessions, games, everything — on being very efficient and organized.

“I find it frustrating. It’s an emotional game, the way it ended and all. But I admit I don’t agree with it.

During Hamm’s two-year tenure, the Lakers went 90-74 in the regular season and 9-12 in the postseason. The Nuggets also finished the Lakers’ 2022–23 season with a four-game sweep of the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers hired Hamm in May 2022 after beginning his NBA coaching career as an assistant from 2011 to 2013. contract after his dismissal.

Hamm also served as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks (2013–18) and Milwaukee Bucks (2018–22) after playing in the NBA from 1996 to 2005. In 2004, he won the NBA Championship for the Detroit Pistons. As an assistant coach with the Bucs in 2021.

This story will be updated.

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(Photo: Ron Chenay / USA Today)

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