The Los Angeles Lakers filled their head coaching vacancy by bringing on board now-former Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham. According to a new report by Marc Stein, Lakers brass had another name very high on their shortlist of candidates and may have gone as far as to tell him the job was his.
Stein reports that Michigan coach Juwan Howard was the “preferred candidate” for the team among those who currently have head coaching gigs elsewhere, which includes a pair of names who were rumored for the gig throughout the process: Sixers coach Doc Rivers and Jazz coach Quin Snyder. In fact, Stein claims that the team would have given Howard the job if he wanted to pursue it, which ultimately ended up not being the case.
The Lakers, I’m told, made such strong overtures to Howard that the implication was clear: The job was his if he wanted it. As covered here on May 2, Howard made it clear in turn throughout the Lakers’ 47-day search that — despite his long associations with both James and Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka — he had no interest in leaving behind the college game at Michigan and the opportunity to coach sons Jace and Jett next season.
Howard was a teammate of James’ with the Miami Heat before spending a year as one of the team’s assistant coaches while James was in town — he ended up spending six years on staff before taking the gig at his alma mater. His ties to Pelinka are even stronger, as the two were teammates in Ann Arbor.