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NBA Hall of Famer and NBA on TNT analyst Charles Barkley is happy for new Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham. But that doesn’t mean Barkley thinks Ham’s hiring will bring success to a Lakers team that just missed the NBA Playoffs.
The Lakers fired head coach Frank Vogel after a 33-49 season and quietly went about finding Vogel’s replacement, finally settling on Ham. LeBron James was clearly a fan of the hire, posting a note of congratulations to Ham on social media. But Sir Charles isn’t sharing James’ enthusiasm.
Assistant coach Darvin Ham of the Milwaukee Bucks before Game 7 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics May 15, 2022, at the TD Garden in Boston. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
“I’m glad Darvin got an opportunity,” Barkley said on the “Dan Patrick Show.” “He’s paid his dues, he’s a nice guy. We’ll have to see what kind of coach he is.
“But listen, if one of your coaches is close to the same age as your players, your team’s not gonna be any good anyway.
“The Lakers, they got a serious dilemma on their hands. Their best player is gonna be 40,” Barkley continued. “Anthony Davis has never been healthy, and obviously Russell [Westbrook] is going to be there one more year. What’s really bad about the situation is next year is going to be the same as this year.”
Charles Barkley, center, of the 75th Anniversary Team, is introduced during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game Feb. 20, 2022, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Lakers had a disastrous season after trading for Westbrook in the offseason. Los Angeles was a preseason favorite to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals but never was able to find the right chemistry. The Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention April 5.
Ham will be expected to find ways to incorporate Westbrook into the offense as James enters the twilight of his career.
Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during the first half of a game at Footprint Center April 5, 2022, in Phoenix, Ariz. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
“In terms of what this team needs right now, we feel like with, obviously, superstars on our team, we want a strong voice that’s able to inspire the players to play at the highest level of competition every night,” general manager Rob Pelinka said after the team fired Vogel, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“And I think that’s going to be one of the resounding qualities that we look for in terms of holding everybody from the top player on our team to the 15th man to a degree of accountability. And that’s going to be one of the many characteristics that I think jumps out today.”
Ham was an assistant coach in Milwaukee the past four seasons, winning the 2021 NBA championship with the Bucks.