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Lakers Reportedly Had Clear No. 1 Choice Before Hiring Darvin Ham

Lakers logo at midcourt.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 19: Los Angeles Lakers logo at center court during the Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers game on October 19, 2021, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers ended their search for a head coach last Friday, hiring Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Darvin Ham. 

Per a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers were sold on Ham's "history of coaching star players and championship pedigree as an assistant and player." Additionally, they liked that Ham has history with the franchise. 

NBA insider Marc Stein, however, reported that Ham wasn't actually the Lakers' first choice. 

Apparently, the Lakers job was Juwan Howard's if he wanted it. However, the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines passed up on the chance to meet with the franchise. 

Howard has strong ties to the Lakers for a variety of reasons. Not only was he teammates with LeBron James in Miami, he played college basketball at Michigan alongside Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka.

The reality is Howard has a good thing going in Ann Arbor. It just wouldn't make a ton of sense for him to leave that behind for a team that has James under contract for just one more season. 

Since becoming the head coach of the Wolverines in 2019, Howard has led the program to a 61-32 record and an Elite Eight appearance.