Fired LA Lakers Coach Joins Philadelphia 76ers Rival

Former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers brings on the recently-fired Darvin Ham to join the Bucks.
Mar 14, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA;  Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers reacts to a call during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2024; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers reacts to a call during the first quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports / Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers has found a new top assistant on the Milwaukee Bucks.

According to ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski, the Bucks are bringing in former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham to help Rivers run the ship. The former Lakers head coach re-joins the organization he spent a few seasons with before landing his big break.

Former Lakers head coach joins a Sixers rival.
Nov 27, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham reacts during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Since 2011, Ham has held coaching positions in the NBA. He became a Lakers assistant for a couple of seasons before joining the Atlanta Hawks for a few years. In 2018, he joined the Bucks as they were climbing the Eastern Conference ranks.

During Ham’s tenure with Milwaukee, the Bucks have been one of the Sixers’ biggest competitors in the East. While the two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since the Sixers became postseason regulars in 2018, the Bucks have posed a significant threat every time, even winning a title in 2021.

As a result of the Bucks’ success, Ham was a prominent prospect in head coach searches for the last few seasons. Two summers ago, he landed the Lakers’ head coaching job after they cut ties with Frank Vogel.

Unfortunately, Ham’s tenure as the Lakers head coach lasted just 164 games. Over two seasons, Ham’s Lakers achieved a 90-74 record. In year one, the Lakers made a run to the Western Conference Finals. While the result was disappointing, it seemed the Lakers were on the right path. Last season’s results proved that wasn’t the case.

After going 47-35 in 2023-2024, the Lakers’ playoff run ended in five games. A first-round exit for LA caused the Lakers to launch a coaching staff, calling it quits on the Ham era after two years. After spending a couple of months searching for his next move, Ham returns to Milwaukee to help out Doc Rivers.

The Bucks cut ties with Adrian Griffin just a few months into the 2023-2024 NBA season. Rivers, who was a free agent after three seasons with the Sixers, took over. The Bucks finished the season with a 49-33 record, placing them third in the Eastern Conference.

For the second season in a row, the Bucks fizzled out early. Against the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee dropped their first-round series 2-4.

Next season will mark the first full season of Doc Rivers’ tenure coaching the Bucks. It will also be the return of Ham. It’s unclear which direction the Bucks are headed after another first-round exit, but they’ll be a team to watch for Philadelphia, who struggled against Milwaukee in recent years.

Heading into the 2024-2025 NBA season, the Bucks hold a four-game win streak over the Sixers. In their last ten games against the Bucks, the Sixers have just three wins.


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Justin Grasso

JUSTIN GRASSO

Title: Credentialed writer/reporter covering the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated’s FanNation Email: JustinGrasso32@Gmail.com Location: Philadelphia, PA Expertise: Reporting, insight, and analysis on the Sixers and the NBA  Justin Grasso is a credentialed writer and publisher covering the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated’s FanNation.  Grasso got his start in sports media in 2016 with FantasyPros, working the news desk, providing game-by-game player analysis and updates on the Portland Trail Blazers and the Golden State Warriors. By 2017, he joined FanSided’s Philadelphia Eagles site as a staff writer. After spending one season covering the Eagles as a staff writer, Grasso was promoted to become the site’s Co-Editor. For the next two NFL seasons, he covered the Eagles closely before broadening his NFL coverage. For a brief stint, Grasso covered the NFL on a national basis after joining Heavy.com as an NFL news desk writer. In 2019, Grasso joined the 76ers' beat on a part-time basis, stepping into a role with South Jersey’s 97.3 ESPN. Ahead of the 2019-2020 NBA season, he concluded a three-year stint covering the Eagles and joined the Sixers beat full-time. Grasso has covered the 76ers exclusively since then for Sports Illustrated. He is a member of the Pro Basketball Writer’s Association.  Twitter: @JGrasso_ Instagram: @JGrassoNBA