When Frank Vogel took over as coach of the Lakers, he was handed a three-year contract — a frowning short by NBA standards. After Vogel won a championship with the Lakers, he only got a one-year contract extension (that’s when people around the league knew his days were numbered). When they were hired, the Lakers told Vogel he needed to install Jason Kidd as their primary assistant, essentially putting his replacement — and a coach highly respected by the players — at his right hand. On top of all that, Lakers front office voice Kurt Rambis was a regular part of Vogel’s coaching meetings, an unusual step in the league.
New Lakers coach Darvin Ham (the Lakers haven’t made the deal official) won’t have to deal with any of that, reports Marc Stein in his latest Substack newsletter. First, he was given a four-year contract, according to multiple reports.
According to buzz in NBA coaching circles over the weekend, Ham was also promised autonomy to choose his coaching staff and reportedly given assurances that Lakers senior adviser Kurt Rambis, will not be regularly present at the meetings of coaches as he was with Vogel. If those promises come to fruition and Ham is actually given all that leeway, they will be seen as major concessions guaranteed by a first NBA head coach.
Maybe the Lakers have learned a lesson — to attract and retain the top coaches they need to give that person the autonomy to do the job their way. Players know how long a coach’s contract lasts, they see how the organization treats the coach and take inspiration from it. It undermined Vogel, even after winning a ring. This kept some top coaches from taking an interest in the Lakers’ work.
Ham will have the chance to do things his way.
It’s a beginning. However, it will be irrelevant how good a Ham manager is or not if there are no significant improvements to the roster this off-season. Bring him back with aging players around LeBron James, Anthony Davis and maybe Russell Westbrook, and the results won’t be much different than this season. The real work during the Lakers’ offseason has only just begun.
Empowering Ham is a good first step.
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Lakers Reportedly Give Darvin Ham Autonomy Frank Vogel Didn’t Originally Appear On NBCSports.com