May 25, 2024

Timeline of Lakers’ coaching history over past 12 seasons

Being the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers comes with ample pressure and scrutiny based on the market alone. Factor in LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the team’s roster, and the sense of urgency to maximize each of these future Hall of Famers’ time in purple and gold is amplified.

Darvin Ham, who led the Lakers to the playoffs in both of his two seasons at the helm in Los Angeles, was the latest coach to fall short of the franchise’s expectations. The Lakers fired Ham on Friday, and are expected to begin searching for a coach immediately. Ham went 90-74 during the regular season and 9-12 during the postseason.

Since Phil Jackson’s second tenure in Los Angeles ended in 2011, no coach has maintained their position for more than three seasons. Let’s take a look at the Lakers’ coaching timeline over the last 12 seasons.

Mike D’Antoni (2012-2014)

Mike D’Antoni began with Los Angeles ten games into the 2012-13 season. Mike Brown, who just completed his second season as the Sacramento Kings’ coach, began the 2012-13 as the Lakers’ head coach but was fired five games into the season. Bernie Bickerstaff was then brought on for five games as an interim until D’Antoni took the reigns.

D’Antoni finished the season 40-32 with a roster that featured Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. That team didn’t manage to win a postseason game and was swept in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.

Bryant played just six games the following season in 2013-14, which led to Los Angeles finishing with a 27-55 record and ultimately the demise of D’Antoni.

Byron Scott (2014-2016)

Byron Scott, who won three championships with the Lakers, was tabbed as the next coach after D’Antoni in 204-15. Scott’s first season as the lead man in Los Angeles went even worse than D’Antoni’s final season. Though Bryant was able to play 35 games, the Lakers went 21-61.

It didn’t get any better for Scott in Los Angeles during the 2015-16 season when the Lakers went 17-65 with Bryant playing 66 games. Those 17 wins were the fewest in franchise history and Scott’s time in Los Angeles came to at the conclusion of the season.

Luke Walton (2016-2019)

Luke Walton was hired after two seasons as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors, where he was on the bench for a 2015 championship. He was never able to achieve that level of success with the Lakers. Los Angeles was 26-56 during Walton’s first season as coach in 2016-17.

Walton improved his win total in 2017-18, going 35-47. He won two more games the following season, going 37-45, but was fired at the end of the season.

Frank Vogel (2019-2022)

Frank Vogel stepped into his role as coach and instantly delivered.

Vogel led the Lakers to a 52-19 record and NBA championship during the unprecedented COVID-19  season. He guided a James- and Davis-led roster to the best record since Jackson’s final season in 2011 and had a seemingly promising future in Los Angeles.

The Lakers regressed in 2020-21, finishing with a 42-30 record and lost to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Los Angeles took a further step back in 2021-22 under Vogel, missing the playoffs with a 33-49 record.

Though Vogel was the first coach to steer the Lakers back to the playoffs and a championship since Jackson, he was eventually fired after missing the postseason for the first time during his tenure in Los Angeles.

Darvin Ham (2022-2024)

Ham began his coaching career as an assistant with the Lakers in 2011-12, and was brought back for his first head-coaching experience in 2022-23.

Los Angeles went 43-39 in Ham’s first season. The Lakers fought their way from the Play-In to the Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Los Angeles found itself in the Play-In again in 2023-24 after going 47-35.

But instead of seeing the Nuggets in the conference finals, the Lakers met them in the first round. Los Angeles managed to win one game to avoid being swept, but still lost in five. Once the buzzer sounded in Denver, the speculation about Ham’s future began.

Ham coached his final game for the Lakers on Monday, before being fired Friday.

The Lakers are now on the clock to figure out who will be the best fit to meet expectations and transform the team back into a serious contender. Mike Budenholzer, who won a championship with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021, is a name tied to potentially being the next coach in Los Angeles.

JJ Redick and current LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue have also had their names involved in speculation. As for now, speculation is all that exists with Ham being fired so recently. Hopefully, for the Lakers’ sake, they can find someone who can last longer than the aforementioned coaches.

Required reading

(Photo: David Berding / Getty Images)