Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard rejects Los Angeles Lakers interest

University of Michigan coach Juwan Howard recently turned down a Los Angeles Lakers overture to the franchise’s coaching job, opting to remain at his alma mater, where Howard will coach his two sons next season, sources told ESPN. .

The Lakers have a formal search process, but courting college coaches typically requires a different level of discretion. The Lakers have a finalist list that includes Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson and former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, sources said. The Lakers are expected to conduct face-to-face interviews in the near future.

The Lakers have never made Howard a formal offer, sources said, but it is clear that had he expressed an interest in the job, his candidacy would have moved quickly to that stage. While Howard has a playing history with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and star LeBron James, he has consistently maintained that he intends to remain in Ann Arbor, where his sons Jace and Jett will be junior and freshmen respectively next season.

Howard interviewed for the Los Angeles job as the Miami Heat’s assistant coach in 2019, before accepting the job as Michigan’s head coach. Howard’s success in college — along with his resume as a six-year Heat assistant and a two-time NBA champion as a player — has sparked great interest in him among NBA teams.

Brad Stevens, president of Boston Celtics, was interested in Howard for his coaching opening a year ago, but Howard also turned down that overture, sources said. The Celtics hired Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka.

Like Howard, Ham is another ex-player with strong leadership, presence, winning experience and past tactical understanding with high level head coaches. Ham is also a strong contender for Charlotte Hornets head coach opening, sources said. Ham worked with Hornet’s GM Mitch Kupchak as an assistant coach for the Lakers ten years ago.

Stotts and Atkinson both bring previous NBA head coaching experience.

Stotts recently coached the Blazers from 2012 to 2021, reaching the playoffs in his last eight consecutive seasons on the job — including two trips to the Western Conference semifinals and a berth in the 2019 conference finals. known for his offensive creativity and ability to build relationships with his star players.

Atkinson built a reputation for developing players as both assistant and head coach in the NBA. He spent more than three years as the head coach of the Nets, leading them to a playoff appearance in his third season in 2018-19.

Howard is 93-61 in three seasons at Michigan and was named national team manager of the year in 2021. His time with the Wolverines included top-five polls in all three years, a Big Ten regular season title, and two trips to the NCAA tournament.

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