Lakers Shake-up Continues Beyond Coach Darvin Ham's Dismissal

Lakers Initiate Sweeping Changes After Playoff Disappointment.

by Nouman Rasool
Lakers Shake-up Continues Beyond Coach Darvin Ham's Dismissal
© Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Disappointed by an early-round playoff exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers have already started at the top in sweeping renovation with the firing of head coach Darvin Ham. That major shakeup didn't stop at Ham, it also saw the departure of the entire coaching staff, including Phil Handy, a well-regarded assistant coach and one known for his pivotal role in the development of key players.

Through Handy, some players' careers have been quite critical: from Austin Reaves to Alex Caruso, whom he turned into formidable starters. He also had great input concerning the offense of Rui Hachimura following his acquisition by the Lakers two seasons back.

As a potential successor for Ham, Handy was released, and rumors about his future were started. There is always a chance that Handy may return under a new head coach who values his development skills, but this move risks another team snapping him up to their gain.

GM Pelinka's Controversial Tenure

Among all these sea changes, General Manager Rob Pelinka has remained firmly in place, a decision that raises eyebrows when one considers his track record with player personnel decisions.

Pelinka's tenure has been one of questionable trades and draft picks with an aversion to the luxury tax, at least on the face of it, moves that would purportedly erode competitive advantage. However, a recency bias seems to buoy his continuation as GM with remaining goodwill from the Lakers' 2020 NBA championship and the cornerstone in Anthony Davis for the future post-LeBron James.

Pelinka has gambled on the point guard position. Since the 2020 championship, the Lakers have traded away Rajon Rondo and Danny Green for Dennis Schröder, who could not bear the burden of a starting point guard. This led to further erroneous decisions, like trading away Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, and a valuable first-round pick for Russell Westbrook, whose integration into the team has been less than seamless and problematic.

Most recently, the signing of D'Angelo Russell was to solve the point guard issue, but his defensive weaknesses really made him ineffective in the playoffs. Often, Pelinka's management resembled a balancing act; at no time did the Lakers, since their last championship, seem to be serious title contenders.

This decision, relieving Handy of duties but keeping Pelinka, reveals an astonishing lack of accountability in the team's strategic direction as it heads into a critical offseason.