According to multiple reports, the Clippers will interview a top assistant for their head coach job: Milwaukee Bucks top assistant Darvin Ham. Additionally, Golden State Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown interviewed with the team in recent days. Ty Lue, who was Doc Rivers’ top assistant with the Clippers and won the NBA Championship as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, is still in the running.

Ham is one of the more highly-regarded assistants in the NBA, working under Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee. A bit of a journeyman as a player, he made 417 appearances for 6 teams between 1996-2005. He first worked as a coach in the D-League before working under Mike Brown on the Lakers from 2011-2013. Since then, he has been with Mike Budenholzer, first in Atlanta and now with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Prior to joining the Lakers, Ham was the head coach of the NBA D-League’s New Mexico Thunderbirds for one year, finishing with a 20-30 record. After that season, the Cleveland Cavaliers purchased the franchise and relocated it, creating the Canton Charge.

Mike Brown is one of the more prominent retread head coaching candidates in the league. He’s been on NBA benches for over 20 years, with three separate stints as a head coach. His record as a head coach is quite impressive–347-216 (.616) in the regular season and 47-36 (.566) in the playoffs, but he has a bit of a negative reputation because of the way his teams didn’t ultimately succeed in the postseason.

Working with LeBron James for five years during his first stint in Cleveland, Brown’s teams lost in the second round three times and the Eastern Conference Finals once. They made one NBA Finals appearance, being swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. While Brown wasn’t single-handedly responsible for those shortcomings, James making the NBA Finals each of the next 8 years didn’t dissuade critics who claimed Brown wasn’t getting adequate results.

Brown was then hired as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, where he saw the team to a second-round exit in 2012 and then was fired after a 1-4 start to the 2012-13 season, when the Lakers added Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Despite the talent, that Lakers team never clicked or stayed healthy, and replacement Mike D’Antoni only saw them to a 7th-place finish and first-round sweep at the hand of the Golden State Warriors.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

31 Comments

  • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

    I have no confidence in this coaching search anymore after today’s news. This team is going to hire another Doc and squander another window of contention because they still don’t understand the nuances of NBA coaching.

    A serious franchise wouldn’t bother interviewing Mike Brown. He couldn’t win with prime LeBron in the East, how could anyone expect him to do any better here? I find it impossible to believe that this job can’t attract more inspiring candidates than him or Lue.

    • Avatar Goons 1 says:

      Haha yeah these names are pretty comical!

      As much as I was against it, Lue needs to be the guy.. These other candidates would be a drastic step back from doc, & quite honestly, I don’t see any other worthy candidates available.. Part of me is starting to wish Doc was still coach & just brought in Gentry & McMillan to run the offense & defense

      • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

        Everything I’ve heard about Lue gives me the impression that he has the exact same flaws as Doc. Even his resume is similar – he gets way too much credit for one championship that he personally did very little to win.

        As for keeping Doc – it’s obvious that we were never winning anything with him no matter how many times we reshuffled the coaching staff or the roster. It wasn’t a mistake to fire him. It will be a mistake to hire a coach with the exact same flaws and pretend that qualifies as a change. If that’s what they end up doing, I’m back to boycotting the Clippers again like I would have done if they kept Doc.

        • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

          Well, not exactly. Lue is well-defended by local press in Cleveland who credit him as someone who held his stars accountable, confronting LeBron James and benching Kevin Love in a bad match-up, as well as experimenting and tinkering over the course of playoff series.

    • Avatar Morty CA says:

      They’re doing their due diligence. It’s not an easy choice on finding a coach for this team and the amount of pressure. They’re turning every stone to make sure they make the right choice. It’s not comical and I have confidence in them. I’m pretty sure they interviewed more people and we just don’t know about it. Clippers are a hush, hush team now.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Darvin Ham is an interesting candidate, and I see that he’s done his time as an assistant, which is good to see. Also I’m not saying that Ham would do the same things or has the same philosophy (none of us have any idea how he’d be as a HC), but him being tightly associated with Bud isn’t really a positive in my opinion – we all saw how incompetent Bud was in the playoffs this season and last. Regardless, glad to see the team isn’t limiting its coaching search to just retreads/experienced HC candidates.

    Also regarding Mike Brown, please no. If we were fine w/ underachieving with loads of talent (i.e. something Mike Brown has done quite a bit of in his career), we could’ve just kept Doc.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      Bud is an interesting case–he certainly should have been fired for his rotations in the playoffs this year, but he also took Giannis’ limitations, a low-end 2nd star, and a bunch of misfit role players and turned the Bucks into one of the most dominant regular season teams of all time. I’m inclined to credit Budenholzer for building a system tailored to his team’s strengths that basically ran the entire league out of the gym all season long… and then hold against him his poor feel for in-game adjustments that led to bad lineups and underplaying his stars in the playoffs.

      I wouldn’t trust him with a contender like the Bucks again next playoffs, but I think that team gets worse with almost anyone else at the helm. If a guy like Ham learned from Budenholzer over the years and can bring that kind of system-building and game planning brilliance, plus better game management from the #1 chair, he’d be a helluva head coach.

      • Avatar chogokin says:

        Hmm…so he could’ve learned from some of Bud’s strengths, and hopefully learned what *not* to do by, well, having two sets of eyes and watching the Bucks play during this year’s postseason? I could get behind that. On the other hand, as we’ve seen with Doc over the last 7ish years, things that look like easy, obvious fixes (e.g. allocating minutes to guys who actually earn them), sometimes just…well, aren’t ever implemented.

        • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

          And nobody is perfect. Hell, look at how much Spo is playing Nunn tonight in game 4, and he has been horrendous.

          • Avatar chogokin says:

            True that. God I was yelling the entire time for Spo to put Butler back at “PG” and trot out Butler/Herro/Robinson/Crowder/Bam lineup – overplaying Nunn tonight basically just cost them any shot they had at a title (however narrow that might have been already to begin with).

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    After having Mr Showbiz for the last 7 years I think we need a serious almost intimidating presence. If Kawhi is our star then maybe we need someone who can channel that countenance better. Byron Scott? Nate McMillan?

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      Not really interested in Byron Scott. I think Nate McMillan is a good coach but he’s pretty consistently been like an average roster/slightly-above-average team guy. It would be interesting to see how he’d handle a big market and a superstar-led roster. His playoff record is not particularly good but he’s always been an underdog (his seed in parenthesis): lost the 2002 2-(7) 3-2, won the 2005 (3)-6 4-1, lost the 2005 2-(3) 4-2, lost the 2009 (4)-5 4-2, lost the 2010 3-(6) 4-2, lost the 2011 3-(6) 4-2, lost the 2017 2-(7) 4-0, lost the 2018 4-(5) 4-3 [to LeBron’s Cavs who went on to the Finals], lost the 2019 4-(5) 4-0, lost the 2020 4-(5) 4-0.

      So, yeah, Nate’s series record in the playoffs isn’t great: 1-9. But he’s been the lower seed in 8 of those 10 series, and the one where he lost as the higher seed was a 6-game 4-5 series where two of his losses were one-possession games.

      You understand why Indiana felt like they were stagnating under him–4 straight first-round losses, three of which were sweeps, but you wouldn’t take the Pacers in any of those series:

      2020 – Sabonis out, Oladipo injured, vs the Miami team that went to the Finals, swept
      2019 – Oladipo out vs the Kyrie/Tatum/Brown/Hayward/Horford Celtics, swept
      2018 – Oladipo plays, and they take the LeBron Cavs team that went to the Finals to 7 games
      2017 – 2-7 series vs the LeBron Cavs team that went to the finals, swept

      Not really sure the coach deserves flak when faced with significant talent disadvantages, and the one star he does have being injured the last two years. Also what awful luck, being in the 4-5 three years in a row and facing the eventual EC champs two of those 3 years.

  • Avatar David Ramos says:

    I think I know what’s going on. Mike Brown has won with Steve Kerr and has learned about the new age system that has dominated there at golden state. In Milwaukee that system is very dominant in the regular season, but the appropriate adjustments were not made during the playoffs. Steve Ballmer is looking for someone with knowledge of a prominent system, with lots of player movement an three point shooting, to be implemented with the clippers.

  • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

    This hire is a great opportunity for Ballmer to apply his business and tech acumen and, hopefully, hit a homerun with it. I’m sure he’s getting input from all possible sources. No one will be fully satisfied with his choice but I have extremely high hopes that he’ll get this right.

  • Avatar World B. We says:

    Darvin Ham Tearing Down The Rim – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnrAzB7ao9w

    I want him as an assistant coach, because he once did this.

  • Avatar jbugs says:

    Alright, I’ll say it. It sounds like they are only putting out black coaching candidates. I felt like this was a big issue when it came to potentially firing doc. Replacing doc with a white coach would be a dangerous move. And doc is probably the best black coach in the game (I’m not a fan of Alvin Gentry). I happen to like monty williams, but I imagine most people don’t. There’s no way Mike Brown is a better coach than Doc.

    It’s possible that none of these guys are actually in the running and they want to make it seem like they are only considering black coaches at the moment. I don’t feel strongly on the issue. A part of me feels like they should just hire the best coach available, while another part of me feels like they should use this opportunity to find a great black coach and not look beyond that talent pool. It just feels at the moment that they are making it look like they are pursuing the latter.