Ham separated himself in the process in recent days, interviewing with Lakers officials Thursday and inspiring an offer Friday afternoon, sources said. The Lakers were sold on Ham's stature and toughness, his history of coaching star players and championship pedigree as an assistant and player, sources said. Ham's history with the Lakers franchise for two seasons -- 2011-2013 -- played a part in his hiring, too.
Ham will be charged with returning the Lakers to the postseason after a disastrous 33-49 season that cost Frank Vogel his job. One of Ham's most important directives: finding a way to incorporate future Hall of Fame guard Russell Westbrook into the franchise's framework with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It was a significant subject of every Lakers coaching interview in the process, sources said.
"So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!! Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!" James tweeted Friday night in response to the hiring.
Ham has been a part of one of the league's most successful coaching trees under Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer -- including Memphis' Taylor Jenkins, Utah's Quin Snyder and Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson. Ham spent nine seasons with Budenholzer in Atlanta and Milwaukee, including winning the 2021 NBA championship together.
"I'm so happy for him," Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo told ESPN, referring to Ham. "He's the right fit for them. He keeps it real with you. No BS at all. It's about damn time. He deserves it more than anyone."
Ham played eight seasons in the NBA, winning a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
The Lakers conducted interviews with two of the three finalists this week -- Ham and Terry Stotts, sources said. After the Ham interview, the franchise leaders knew they had their coach.