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Los Angeles Lakers fire head coach Darvin Ham after NBA playoff first round elimination

Ham went 90-74 in two seasons
Ham went 90-74 in two seasonsProfimedia
Darvin Ham was fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, four days after the team was ousted from the NBA playoffs by Denver, the club announced.

Ham went 90-74 in two seasons guiding the Lakers, but the team was swept by eventual NBA champion Denver in last year's Western Conference final and eliminated in five games in round one by the Nuggets this season.

"We greatly appreciate Darvin's efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognize the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons, including last year's remarkable run to the Western Conference finals," Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said.

"While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season. This organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-calibre basketball to Lakers fans around the world."

In addition to who will be hired to guide the squad next, the Lakers face uncertainty over the future of superstar LeBron James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player who can opt out of his contract next season.

"I've seen, heard a lot of reports about my future. I said it last night and I'll say it again. I do not know yet as I'm only thinking about spending time with my family & friends! When I know after speaking with the fam, my counsel as well as my representation about it then you guys will know. Until then. Love," James tweeted on Tuesday.

James has said he would like to play next season alongside his son Bronny, who has opted into next month's NBA Draft.

Four-time NBA champion James, still a force at age 39, averaged a team-high 25.7 points as well as 8.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals a game.

The Lakers went 47-35 this season, including a victory in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, now called the NBA Cup. They beat New Orleans in the play-in round to seal a playoff spot against Denver.

James played 71 games this season while All-Star teammate Anthony Davis played 76, giving them their most combined contests since they were united by the Lakers in 2018.

Davis averaged 24.7 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.3 blocked shots and 1.2 steals per contest.

Davis, like James, has an opt-out contract clause and if both stars depart it would leave the Lakers in a major rebuilding situation.

The Lakers won't want to lose their stars Davis (L) and LeBron
The Lakers won't want to lose their stars Davis (L) and LeBronProfimedia

Ham, a former NBA forward who won a title with Detroit in 2004, had served as a Lakers assistant coach from 2011-2013.

He spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, helping them win an NBA title in 2021 before being named in June 2022 to replace the fired Frank Vogel as Lakers coach.

The Lakers struggled early in Ham's first season but a mid-season revamp, adding Japan's Rui Hachimura and D'Angelo Russell in supporting roles, lifted the team into the 2023 playoffs, where it eliminated Memphis and Golden State before falling to the Nuggets.

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