While every other publication is putting together a long list of candidates for the Oklahoma City head coaching job, my list starts and stops at one, Darvin Ham. To be transparent Hamm, and I have known each other since his days coaching the New Mexico Thunderbirds D-league team.
Yes, there are personal reasons for wanting to see him get this opportunity, but it is not without merit. Let's start with the fact that Ham fits the description of the job to a T. For the exception of P.J. Carlesimo, both Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan were first time NBA head coaches.
It's not Sam Presti's style to go after low hanging fruit established names. Not that Brett Brown, Nate McMillan, Mark Jackson, or Ty Lue would be ruled out, but, Ideally, your next head coach will be under the age of 50; willing to let the front office make personnel decisions, and be able to deal with the rigors of a lengthy rebuild.
Ham is that guy. His experience as a coach in the association goes back to 2011 when he was on the Lakers staff working with Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol in a player development role.
He left L.A. for Atlanta to be a part of Mike Budenholzer's staff with the Hawks and followed him to the Bucks where for the last two seasons, they have been the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention he was one of the best dunkers in college basketball history.
Ham has over ten years playing experience in the NBA and overseas, plus he's won a championship with the Pistons back in the 03-04 season. He can relate to players; he'll have the right temperament, and not for nothing, he knows how to handle the media.
However, this search plays out; we must be prepared for some tough years ahead. Till the Thunder are in a position to either draft higher or flip those picks for more veteran players, they will struggle to make the postseason.
This is assuming that Danilo Gallinari, Chris Paul, and others aren't on the roster next season. And While Presti says you can keep this group together for one more season unless you feel you can get to the finals with what you have now, it's better to move on and start the process of retooling.
You must also give your new guy a chance to see all his hard work pay off, so if he's going to deal with three of four seasons of sub .500 basketball, once this team shows they can compete, you don't fire them for an upgrade. It's classes, and there's nothing lower than watching someone else reap the rewards of another's hard work.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.