Could discarded Los Angeles coach end up on Suns' bench?

The Phoenix Suns need to fill out their coaching ticket around new head coach Mike Budenholzer, and a former coach out in L.A. might just make the cut.
Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers
Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers / Harry How/GettyImages

The Phoenix Suns will enter the 2024-25 season with their third head coach in three seasons - and Devin Booker's seventh in a decade - after moving quick to secure Mike Budenholzer. The franchise deciding after one year of the Frank Vogel experience, that change was necessary.

This despite having a thin roster outside of their "Big 3", and Vogel managing to win 49 games in what was a turbulent season. Coach Budenholzer does arrive with championship experience having won it all with the Milwaukee Bucks before, but didn't Vogel do the same thing with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2020?

In any event coach Budenholzer is going to need to fill out his coaching staff, and one recently discarded individual in Los Angeles might just fit the bill.

The Suns lost their lead assistant in Kevin Young to BYU just before the playoffs started, a seemingly strange move given Young was the highest paid number two in the league who had never coached at the college level before. Given Young was a finalist to get both the Suns' and Brooklyn Nets' top gigs in the past, it felt like it was only a matter of time before he had a team of his own to run.

Given the shaky ground Vogel was on, many felt that could come in The Valley, especially given the great relationship Young is known to have had with Devin Booker. But he elected to go in another direction, although he did remain on the bench for the Suns' woeful playoff sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

This leaves David Fizdale as the only remaining coach from the top three the Suns had last season - and although there is no indication he is going to leave - coach Budenholzer needs another person to fill out the top half of his coaching ticket. That individual could well be Darvin Ham, who was canned by the Lakers in the aftermath of their own disappointing season.

This might sound like a misstep from the Suns, but having Ham join their bench could actually be a very smart move. Ham had a great reputation prior to getting the top gig in Los Angeles - there's a reason LeBron James signed off on the hiring - and to last two seasons in that environment shows he is made of strong stuff given the constant media attention around that organization.

Ham was also known as a great man manager, somebody who can speak with players and who has the experience of having played in the league himself. He won a championship with the Detroit Pistons back in 2004, and also has the experience of having played and coached overseas as well.

Next. Could NCAA finalist be the draft solution for the Suns?. Could NCAA finalist be the draft solution for the Suns?. dark

Really though the key reason Ham may end up on the Suns' bench is his relationship with coach Budenholzer. He was an assistant both on that 60 win Atlanta Hawks group of 2014-15, and when the Bucks beat the Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals. He has an existing relationship with Bud and for that reason he should be strongly considered to reunite with him.

Part of owner Mat Ishbia's thinking last season was to spend big on a coaching staff to give his team the best chance to win. They came up short, and so taking a different approach this season could work. That would be pairing a successful duo in Budenholzer and Ham together again, while keeping Fizdale. With improving the roster hard to achieve, adding Ham looks like the most logical next step.