Terry Stotts, Darvin Ham, Kenny Atkinson: What to know about Lakers coaching candidates

Terry Stotts, Darvin Ham, Kenny Atkinson: What to know about Lakers coaching candidates

It’s been more than six weeks since the Lakers fired coach Frank Vogel, and the picture for hiring his replacement is probably murkier than anyone involved would’ve hoped.

Three candidates — Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts — will have a second round of interviews in the near future.

Rival executives polled in Chicago during the NBA’s draft combine wondered if the Lakers have come to grips with the biggest challenge they face — replacing a championship-winning coach with someone better is a difficult task.

Those executives said hiring a coach is among their toughest jobs in basketball operations, and after seven teams hired coaches before last season, it’s considered a softer market this summer.

During the season, it was speculated Utah coach Quin Snyder, a former Lakers assistant, could be a top option and that the Lakers had interest in Michigan coach Juwan Howard, who interviewed for the job in 2019. It turned out Snyder wasn’t interested, and people with knowledge of the situation in April said Howard was staying at Michigan to coach his two sons.

Depending on how you view the roster, the next coach will be someone equipped to win with LeBron James in the twilight of his career, someone who resonates with Russell Westbrook or who fully unlocks Anthony Davis’ most-valuable-player potential. Or if you view this as a longer-term process, finding the right coach to help bridge eras of Lakers basketball could be most important.

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While the team’s stated timetable still gives them a month to make a decision — Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manger and vice president of basketball operations, said ideally they would have a coach by the June 23 draft — Atkinson, Stotts and Ham also are reported to be candidates for the opening in Charlotte.

While the Lakers figure out whether to add to their pool — perhaps a big name such as Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers — this is what fans should know about the candidates who advanced to a second round of interviews:

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