The Los Angeles Lakers have parted ways with Darvin Ham after two seasons as head coach, league sources confirmed to ClutchPoints on Friday. This news was first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Ham, 50, signed a four-year contract in May 2022 worth about $5 million annually. Unless he's hired elsewhere, the Lakers will be on the hook for the money.

The now former Lakers coach scrounged out nine years in the NBA (1996-05) as a hard-nosed forward, and he played a key bench role on the title-winning 2003-04 Detroit Pistons. He paid his dues coaching in the development league. He had been a well-regarded assistant with the Lakers, Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.

The Lakers tapped Ham believing his gravitas, ex-player perspective, and relationship-building skills would connect with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, et al. Ham impressed the Lakers' brass with his X's-and-O's acumen.

Last season, Ham earned plaudits for adeptly navigating the Russell Westbrook situation and turning a 2-10 start into a Western Conference finals berth made possible by the midseason roster overhaul.

So what went awry?

Lakers' decision to part ways with Darvin Ham

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham watches game action against the Denver Nuggets during the first half in game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers spent the offseason/preseason preaching continuity, but Ham instantly shook things up. Beginning on opening night, he wasted minutes using Cam Reddish as the fourth guard instead of developing Max Christie — the precise type of energetic, two-way wing the Lakers lacked.

With the Lakers at 3-5, Ham realigned Austin Reaves — coming off an elite playoff run, a $54 million contract, and global coming-out-party — to sixth-man duties. The ploy initially worked. Reaves made the best of it. The third-year guard averaged 14.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.9 assists as Los Angeles won six of their next seven games.

By late December, though, Reaves was still coming off the bench, in favor of Reddish (and Taurean Prince). He wasn't back in the starting lineup until Jan. 3.

Ham reportedly confounded his players by messing with D'Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura's roles as the team correspondingly sputtered (excluding In-Season Tournament games).

Hachimura, who signed a three-year, $51 million deal with the Lakers after his impressive '23 postseason, had only started seven of 35 games up to Feb. 1 despite injuries to Jarred Vanderbilt.

Russell swooned post-IST. DLo averaged 9.8 points on 37.5 percent shooting through the first eight games of December. Ham also moved the ex-All-Star to the bench (as he did for Game 4 of the WCF).

On Dec. 23 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Ham started Reddish, Prince and Vanderbilt alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The Lakers won, but Ham may have started to lose the locker room. The Lakers lost four of the next five games.

From Nov. 30 through Feb. 1, the Lakers went 14-17 and dropped as low as 13th in the West. On Jan. 3, Reaves called the vibes “sh-tty.

The Lakers did suffer key injuries to Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent, but saw their four best players — LeBron, AD, Reaves, Russell — eclipse 70 games.

“You take a lot of flak for your rotations,” Ham said after Game 5. “But rotations are secondary. Primary is health.”

On Feb. 3, the Lakers started their five best players. They went 23-10 the rest of the way.

“I’ve been telling them, like, this is who we are,” Hachimura said on Feb. 14. “We’ve been trying a lot of different things, some lineups and all this stuff, but this is the lineup we had in the playoffs, and that’s how we won, so it’s simple.”

Yet, they were unable to escape the play-in.

On Monday, The Athletic reported that the Lakers' adjustments in their Feb. 28 comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers — LeBron's ‘sicko mode' game — were orchestrated by the players. (LeBron made sure to compliment Clippers coach Ty Lue.)

Game 2 against the Nuggets — and the events before and after — may have been Ham's death knell. Pregame, Ham admitted to having no idea how to stop Nikola Jokic (“It’s like sh-t, I don’t know what to do”).

He stood idly by as his team blew a 20-point lead and barely ran offensive sets. He didn't challenge a key whistle in the final minute, then blamed the refs (as did LeBron and Russell).

Afterward, Davis wondered aloud why the Lakers were still having “stretches when we don't know what we're doing.” At practice two days later, Ham exacerbated the situation by defending his coaching staff and disagreeing with his star. (The two cleared the air.)

Before Game 4, Ham said he's “always thought that a team is a reflection of its coach, in terms of the mental stability, the emotional stability.” The Lakers beat the Nuggets for the first time in 12 tries.

The Lakers never cratered under Ham. They mostly played with grit and resilience. They improved from year-to-year and were victimized by a stronger conference around them. The Lakers admirably battled down to the wire with the Nuggets. Play your best players in December, though, and avoid the Joker, at least for the first round.

Now, Rob Pelinka will oversee his third head-coaching search in five years. Not too many general managers can claim that.