Wasn’t Darvin Ham the Lakers’ first choice as head coach?

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April 7, 2012; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Suns beat the Lakers 125-105. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is more than qualified for the job. But it turns out he may have been the team’s plan B.

Veteran basketball writer Marc Stein reported this week that there is a buzz in league coaching circles that Michigan coach Juwan Howard was the Lakers’ preferred candidate. Stein adds that the Lakers made such strong overtures to Howard that it implied their head coaching job was his if he wanted to take it.

Howard, 49, was a teammate of LeBron James on the Miami Heat, winning two rings together. He was also a teammate at the University of Michigan with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

It’s true that Howard was tied to the Lakers as early as April (Ham wasn’t officially hired until Friday). Unfortunately for the Lakers, Howard turned down their advances and opted to stay at Michigan for one notable reason.

While Ham has more NBA coaching experience than Howard, there were indeed signs the Lakers were divided on who to hire. For his part, former NBA MVP James would have liked a different coach from Ham.

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