Lakers coach Darwin Hamm standing in question amid locker room disconnect: Sources

LOS ANGELES — Following their ninth loss in 12 games, the Los Angeles Lakers have hit a new snag in their season, raising concerns about the direction of the season inside and outside the organization.

There is currently a deep disconnect between Darwin Hamm and the Lakers locker room, six sources with direct knowledge of the situation say, raising questions about the head coach's stance. Talked to people Athletic They are on condition of anonymity to speak freely on the matter. Those sources described the disharmony between the coach and the team as stemming from recent intense rotation and starting lineup adjustments from Hamm, which has led to fluctuating rhythms for several players across the roster.

The Miami Heat, without superstar Jimmy Butler, defeated the Lakers 110-96 on Wednesday at Arena. The loss dropped Los Angeles to 17-18 — their first time below .500 since Nov. 11 — and the Western Conference's No. The Golden State Warriors for 10 are up just .001 percentage points. The Lakers are 3-9 since winning the in-season contest in Las Vegas on Dec. 9. They've lost three games in a row, and Wednesday night's loss led to turmoil.

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In LA's latest attempt to turn around the skid, Hamm used his 10th starting lineup of the season and third in three games: Austin Reaves at point guard, Darian Prince at shooting guard, Cam Reddish at small forward, LeBron James at power forward and Anthony Davis at center. The Lakers were minus-3 in 13 minutes the team played together on Wednesday against Miami.

Regardless of how healthy the team is, the latest lineup change continues a troubling trend as the Lakers struggle to determine or establish continuity this season. Concerns have only grown in recent weeks.

Hamm's decision to start D'Angelo Russell and James, Prince, Reddish, Jarrett Vanderbilt and Davis in a lineup without a second guard ballhandler starting Dec. 23 at Oklahoma City was considered a reversal by many internally. For this story.

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The Lakers won their streak all summer, including bringing back the top five scorers from their Western Conference Finals run (James, Davis, Reaves, Russell and Hachimura, in that order). But more than a third of the way through the season, all three of those players — in Russell, Hachimura and Reaves, the team's third-, fourth- and fifth-highest-paid players, respectively — came off the bench. Although Hamm was touted as a future All-Star over the summer and finished third on the team in scoring, Russell's role has shrunk since Las Vegas, and Hachimura's playing time has fluctuated on a nightly basis. basically.

After Wednesday's loss, the locker room was opened before Hamm addressed the media, a rarity. Davis was initially soft-spoken and depressed, refusing to use his injuries as an excuse.

“It's a little bit of everything right now,” Davis said. “We didn't execute. That team played harder than us tonight, played better than us tonight, was more physical than us tonight. We got the job done tonight. So now it's all a little bit. If we continue this trend, it's not going to be good for us. So we'll figure it out soon. It is obvious that should.

“Guys being out is not an excuse. We have no excuses. Like coach said (pregame), we have enough in this locker room to win, but we have to go out there and compete.”
By the time Davis was available, James, who was at Davis' locker, got dressed and left the locker room without speaking to reporters.

Hamm finally spoke to the media about 30 minutes later. He went on to say that while the Lakers had James, Davis, Reaves and Russell for all but eight games, they weren't going to see “any consistency” until they were fully healthy. Hachimura (left calf strain), Russell (tailbone sprain) and Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery) are currently injured.

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“We've got to stay healthy,” Hamm said. “… Once you get healthy, guys have to get back into rhythm, and we have to find a cohesive unit, a total cohesive cycle that we can go through. When you're dealing with different people in and out of the lineup so often, it's almost impossible to find a rhythm. That's the reality. It's No one has a little.”

Hamm suggested that it's easier for a team to play without a star than it is to have multiple rotation players in and out of the lineup — like the Heat play without Butler. the season

“I think the flaps (cyclists) have more of an impact than that … if you lose one of your big dogs, you're going to figure out how to try and manage without them,” Hamm said. “… When your key role players, your key rotation players — this guy misses three or four. This guy misses three or four. And they happen one after the other, and that's what makes it difficult. … We've got to figure it out. I'm disappointed, but I feel bad if I'm depressed.

When asked if he would consider going back to the original starting lineup of Russell, Reaves, Vanderbilt, James and Davis, Hamm said the team is considering every possibility.

“I think everything is on the table and it makes sense,” Hamm said. “No stone remains unturned. We're here to explore everything we can to right the ship.

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Meanwhile, speaking after Hamm, Reaves echoed a similar sentiment to Davis, saying the team can't use fluctuating lineups as an excuse.

“Whatever the lineup is, whatever the change, whatever happens, we've got to be better as a team and win games,” Reaves said. “We are good enough to win games. We have enough depth. We have enough talent. We have to figure it out.”

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Davis and Reaves' perspective highlights the contrast between how the locker room feels about the team's current woes, compared to Hamm's, and how Hamm cited injuries, schedule and line-up changes amid the team's discord, particularly since IST.

Hamm confirmed postgame that the team had a team meeting afterward, which is why it took so long for the locker room to open. By the time Davis spoke to the media, other players in the Lakers locker room had left. Reaves said the vibe in the locker room was “sh-y.”

“We're losing,” Reeves said. “Anytime you lose, the vibe's got to be off, you know? If I go in there and the vibe doesn't go off after the tough stretch we've had, I'll be worried.

He later clarified that it wasn't a situation where the players didn't like each other, which is a stark contrast considering where the locker room was at this time last season.

“When I say the vibe is off, it's not like we don't like each other,” Reeves said. “We're losing. We should be angry. We shouldn't be happy with how we're playing after games. But I don't want to screw it up because we don't like each other. Everybody in the locker room gets along.

The Lakers have gone through their share of woes in Hamm's nearly two years as head coach, including a 2-10 finish with a Western Conference Finals berth a season ago. So Hamm, in the second year of a four-year coaching deal, has shown his players the ability to get going. But time is of the essence around the 39-year-old James and Davis, and as Hamm juggles lineups and adjustments over the past few weeks, patience is starting to wear thin.

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(Photo by Darwin Hamm: Harry How/Getty Images)

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