Six weeks since dismissing head coach Nate McMillan, it appears as though the Pacers have finally started to whittle down their increasingly long short-list of reported coaching candidates. According to ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham is expected to interview in-person this week with Indiana’s brass as a “finalist,” perhaps joining Utah’s Quin Snyder, Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins, and former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson as the latest offshoot to branch out from Mike Budenholzer’s coaching tree.
With eight years of experience in the league as a powerful dunker, tough rebounder, and former NBA Champion with the 2004 Detroit Pistons, Ham’s background covers multiple eras, spanning physical, defensive-minded teamwork as a valued role player to emphasizing pace and space as a coach. Brought from Atlanta to Milwaukee, Ham has been Budenholzer’s lead assistant on both teams, and in seven seasons together, the two have amassed a 329-236 record with all but one of their squads ranking in the top-10 of three-point attempts per 100 possessions.
Prior to joining Budenholzer’s staff, where he worked with Atlanta’s big men, including Al Horford and Paul Millsap, the eight-year NBA veteran made his head coaching debut in the G League with the New Mexico Thunderbirds before later becoming an assistant with the Lakers in 2011 under Mike Brown. For a team reportedly in search of a modern communicator who can relate to today’s players, Ham has received multiple votes of confidence from DeMarre Carroll, the starting small forward on the 2014-15 Hawks teams that won 60 games.
DARVIN HAM deserves one of these head coaching jobs..The guy resume is unmatched as a lead assistant in the league... Some team will get it right...— DeMarre Carroll (@DeMarreCarroll1) September 3, 2020
“The biggest reason why I was able to play my best basketball in Atlanta is because of the organization’s player development,” Carroll wrote in a 2015 essay published at The Players’ Tribune. “All of the coaches worked hard to make every guy on this roster better, and they deserve a lot of credit for our team’s improvement this year ... Darvin Ham shared the tricks he picked up during his long NBA career to help me develop my skills around the basket.”
Along with Ham, other names which have been mentioned in reporting as either strong contenders or potential finalists for the vacancy include former Memphis and Sacramento head coach Dave Joerger, Toronto assistant Nate Bjorkgren, Miami assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn, Pelicans assistant Chris Finch, former NBA point guard Chauncey Billups, and former Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni.