Amid their rocky 25-25 season, many have called for the LA Lakers to fire coach Darvin Ham. While the Lakers’ players haven’t directly come out and called for Ham’s job, a few have hinted at their dissatisfaction with him in recent interviews.
Among the common criticisms of Ham are his lack of in-game adjustments and questionable rotations. That includes his insistence on giving veteran forward Taurean Prince extended playing time even when his shots aren’t falling.
It appears that LA’s top players are growing increasingly tired of the uncertainty surrounding their night-to-night game plans, as tension has seemingly been mounting lately.
On that note, below are three recent instances of Lakers players arguably taking shots at Ham.
3 Lakers players who allegedly took subtle digs at Darvin Ham
#3 D’Angelo Russell
Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell has had an up-and-down season. After struggling offensively in December, he was demoted to a bench role for seven games. However, the former All-Star earned his starting position back last month and has been playing much better ever since.
On Thursday, Russell had an off night against the Boston Celtics, shooting just 5-for-20 (25.0%). However, he still made a positive impact, recording 16 points, eight rebounds, 14 assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes.
Meanwhile, he helped lead a shorthanded Lakers squad to a 114-105 road victory over the NBA’s top-ranked team (37-12).
After LA’s impressive road win, Russell was asked about how he was able to impact the game despite his shooting struggles. He highlighted how it takes trust between players and coaches for such performances to be possible.
“I think that’s trust,” Russell said. “If you miss shots and then you just get subbed out, how are you going to feel about that? You’re going to feel some type of way.”
“I think, coaching staffs around the league, … they’re successful when they recognize their players are kind of getting lost in the sauce and they find a way to give them love or find a way to get them something easy. … When you get that trust from your coach, it allows everybody from one through 15 to go out there and impact winning.”
Considering Russell’s previous bench demotion, one could easily imply that he was taking a subtle shot at Darvin Ham. However, the 27-year-old never directly referred to his coach, leaving it open for interpretation.
#2 LeBron James
Before upsetting Boston, LA suffered its second straight blowout road loss on Tuesday, falling 138-122 to the Atlanta Hawks. Afterward, Lakers superstar forward LeBron James was asked if he had a message for his teammates ahead of the remainder of their road trip.
The four-time MVP chose not to scold his teammates. However, it appeared that he was about to call out LA’s coaching before being interrupted by a reporter.
“I don’t have any message for my teammates,” James said. “Just go out and do your job. I mean, I’m not the — Yeah, appreciate it. Way to cut me off.”
It’s unclear exactly what James was going to say. Nonetheless, he appeared visibly frustrated after being asked a question that most would agree was better suited for Darvin Ham.
#1 Anthony Davis
Finally, Lakers star big man Anthony Davis also hinted at his frustration with Darvin Ham’s rotations last week.
Davis was asked if he’d like to see LA play its starting five from last year’s Western Conference finals run together more often. That lineup featured him, James and Russell alongside shooting guard Austin Reaves and forward Jarred Vanderbilt.
The nine-time All-Star appeared as though he wanted to say yes. However, he instead smiled and said, “That’s on coach. That’s on coach,” further adding to the speculation of his team’s burgeoning frustration.