The role Anthony Davis played in Lakers firing Darvin Ham

Tony Nguyen | Los Angeles Lakers
May 20, 2024

The Los Angeles Lakers are without a head coach or even a coaching staff after the team cleaned out house and fired Darvin Ham and his staff following a first-round loss to the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Playoffs. While resentment had seemingly been growing in the Lakers locker room in regards to Ham, Anthony Davis’ reported discontent with the coach may have played a big part in Ham’s ousting.

NBA insider Sam Amick of The Athletic said on “The Rich Eisen Show” that the Lakers came to the decision to fire Ham, at least in part, due to Davis no longer being in support of the coach.

“AD is the future of the Lakers, and I think we are guilty of sometimes of — yeah again, because LeBron [James]’s the free agent this summer — of focusing too much on LeBron and not enough on AD,” Amick said. “When they chose to fire Darvin Ham, I was told that one of the many, many considerations was that it was pretty evident that AD was not on board anymore with Darvin, and they know, like everybody else, that AD has a history of having asked for trades in the past.

“That’s how he got to the Lakers from New Orleans. Last thing they wanted was for AD to be frustrated with the situation and maybe have those types of thoughts cross his mind. That’s what, to me, is unique about this offseason for the Lakers is that even within Klutch, you might have some different opinions about coach and players when it comes to LeBron and AD.”

Anthony Davis, Lakers facing big offseason

os Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Anthony Davis (3) high-five after a play in the first half against the Indiana Pacers at Arena.

Like Amick mentioned, Anthony Davis publicly demanded a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, which cost him a $50,000 fine from the NBA and created an odd, months-long saga in which Davis’ destination seemed unclear. Ultimately, Davis was traded in June 2019 to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he teamed up with LeBron James and won an NBA Championship in their first season together.

Things haven’t been as smooth since then. Davis, and to a lesser extent James, dealt with numerous injuries and thus struggled to consistently stay on the court. Additionally, as a result of disastrous decisions to acquire Russell Westbrook and part ways with players such as Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers, even when healthy, proved to be quite a long way from becoming champions again.

The Lakers reversed some of the damage done by trading Westbrook last year, Darvin Ham’s first season as the team’s head coach, and they even made it back to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in three years. Unfortunately, they were swept by the Denver Nuggets. This season, the team, despite winning the first NBA In-Season Tournament and Davis playing a career-high number of games, had a rocky regular season and were bounced from the playoffs by the Nuggets again.

This offseason will not only feature a Lakers head coaching search, which reportedly features candidates like JJ Redick, Kenny Atkinson, and James Borrego, but LA will also be waiting on James’ decision on whether he will re-sign with the team or leave.

If Davis decided to demand a trade, he would have relatively little bargaining power, at least when compared to his 2019 request. Davis has a minimum of three years and more than $150 million left on his deal. The earliest he could hit free agency is 2027.