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Darvin Ham’s job security was under fire in the days following the Los Angeles Lakers’ early exit from the NBA playoffs. The defending champion Denver Nuggets needed just five games to knock the Lakers out of the postseason.

After Monday’s loss, many began speculating that Ham had coached his last game with the Lakers. On Friday, the Lakers made it official, by announcing that the team had parted ways with him after two seasons.

The move comes as four-time NBA champion LeBron James weighs his future. James was noncommittal earlier this week when he was asked whether he would return to Los Angeles for the 2024-25 season. “I’m not going to answer that,” James told reporters after the 108-106 loss to Denver.

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Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham reacts during the second half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets on Monday, April 22, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Whomever the Lakers end up selecting as the franchise’s next head coach, that person will have to maximize the final chapter of Ham’s storied career — if he decides to stay with the purple and gold. 

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Tyronne Lue and J.J. Redick’s names have recently been floated as possible top contenders for the Lakers head coaching job, according to a report from ESPN. Lue and Redick both have ties to James. Lue coached James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship, while Redick is James’ podcast co-host.

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Despite having two years left on his contract, the Lakers decided to part ways with the coach. Ham ends his two-year stint in Los Angeles with a regular season 90-74 record. The Lakers had an 11-12 record under Ham. 

Head coach Darvin Ham of the Los Angeles Lakers watches his team warm up before the game against Brooklyn Nets at Crypto.com Arena on January 19, 2024, in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“It’s been a h–l of a two years … I’ll tell you that,” Ham said Monday. “Sitting in this seat, it’s been a hell of a two years. A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately, you want to win that ultimate prize.”

Ham did successfully guide the Lakers to a title in the NBA’s first-ever In-Season tournament in December.

Head coach Darvin Ham of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half at Crypto.com Arena on January 15, 2024, in Los Angeles, California.  (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Ham replaced Frank Vogel in 2022. Vogel oversaw a disappointing 33-win season in 2021-22, a year when the team failed to qualify for the postseason. But Vogel also guided the Lakers to an NBA title inside the NBA bubble in 2020. 

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The Lakers got off to a slow start in Ham’s first season on the sidelines, but the team pulled off several moves leading up to the trade deadline, which seemed to ultimately help propel them to the Western Conference Finals.

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