University of Michigan coach Juwan Howard recently turned down an offer from the Los Angeles Lakers to coach the franchise, opting to stay at his alma mater, where Howard will coach his two sons next season. sources told ESPN.
The Lakers have a formal search process in place, but courting college coaches generally requires a different level of discretion. The Lakers have a shortlist of Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, sources said. The Lakers are expected to conduct in-person interviews in the near future.
The Lakers never made a formal offer to Howard, sources said, but it’s clear that had he shown interest in the job, his bid would have moved quickly at this stage. While Howard has a playing history with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and star LeBron James, he has always maintained that he plans to stay in Ann Arbor, where his sons Jace and Jett will be a junior and freshman, respectively. next season.
Howard interviewed for the Los Angeles job as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat in 2019, before accepting the head coaching job at Michigan. Howard’s success in the college ranks — along with his resume as a Heat assistant for six years and a two-time NBA champion as a player — has sparked considerable interest in him among NBA teams.
Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens was interested in Howard for his coaching opening a year ago, but Howard also declined that opening, sources said. The Celtics have hired Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka.
Like Howard, Ham is another former player with solid leadership, presence, winning experience and tactical understanding from previous work with top-level head coaches. Ham is also a strong candidate for the Charlotte Hornets head coach opening, sources said. Ham worked with Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak as Lakers assistant coach a decade ago.
Both Stotts and Atkinson bring previous NBA head coaching experience.
Stotts most recently coached the Blazers from 2012-2021 and reached the playoffs in his last eight consecutive seasons on the job – including two trips to the Western Conference Semifinals and a berth in the Conference Finals in 2019 He is known for his attacking creativity. and an ability to build relationships with his star players.
Atkinson has built a reputation for player development as an assistant and head coach in the NBA. He spent more than three years as Nets head coach, which he led to a playoff appearance in his third season in 2018-19.
Howard is 93-61 in three seasons at Michigan and was named National Coach of the Year in 2021. His time with the Wolverines included ranking in the top five polls in the three years, a season title regular Big Ten and two trips to the NCAA Tournament.