The LA Lakers are in the middle of their head coaching search. The Lakers are looking for someone who can lead the team back into contention and possibly take over an overhauled roster heading into next season. Despite the tough task for the new head coach, he still has LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster.
As for Russell Westbrook, who had an underwhelming debut season in Hollywood, he might be on his way out of the Lakers. The latest rumors suggest that the team could still explore ways to trade Westbrook or even discuss the possibility of a buyout.
Here is the LA Lakers rumors roundup for May 21st, 2022 brought to you by Sportskeeda.
Darvin Ham made the "strongest impression" on the LA Lakers
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, two of the finalists in the LA Lakers head coaching search are Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham and former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Shams Charania of The Athletic added Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson as a third finalist.
Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic now report that Ham is the leading candidate for the Lakers coaching job. The Bucks assistant made the "strongest impression" among the candidates. Ham played eight seasons in the NBA before becoming an assistant coach.
The one-time champ's first coaching job in the league was in 2011 from 2013 with the Lakers under Mike Brown and Mike D'Antoni. He then joined the Atlanta Hawks in 2013 before landing in Milwaukee in 2018. Ham was under Mike Budenholzer while with the Hawks and the Bucks.
Russell Westbrook on his way out of the LA Lakers
Russell Westbrook had the worst season of his career in his first year with the LA Lakers. Westbrook's homecoming has not been fun and it seems like it will end after just one season. According to Marc Stein in his latest Substack piece, the Lakers are interested in trading the former MVP as long as they don't need to part ways with a future first round pick.
"While the Lakers have indeed asked coaches they've interviewed in recent weeks how they would manage a roster that still features Westbrook, that's not to say L.A. has already decided to bring the former All-Star guard back for the final season remaining (at a tidy $47 million) on his current contract. The Lakers won't rule that out, because they would naturally prefer to avoid trades that require them to inject a future first-round pick to push the deal through," Stein wrote.
Stein added that the Lakers could always explore a possible buyout with Westbrook. The team might have planned a scenario wherein the nine-time All-Star is still with the team next season, but a fresh start with a better atmosphere at the start of training camp could benefit everyone.
Jerry West's son, Ryan, punished by LA Lakers front office?
Jerry West is without a doubt an LA Lakers legend, but his relationship with the organization has been strained. Ethan Strauss, a former writer for The Athletic, revealed in his recent Substack post that West's son, Jerry, was frozen out by the Lakers during his last year with the franchise in 2019.
Ryan West worked as a scout for the Lakers, but was effectively seen as a ghost during his last season with the team. Jerry's relationship with the only team that he played for and managed went sour in 2017 after he joined the rivals LA Clippers as an executive board member.
"According to sources, Jerry West's son Ryan, formerly a scout for the Lakers, was frozen out in his last year with the team, the 2018-19 season, in an act of proxy revenge directed towards his father. What does 'frozen out,' mean? Ryan West wouldn't be involved in any meetings or official operations. He'd show up to the facility and essentially get treated as a ghost, in what was effectively a dare to leave," Strauss wrote.