Milwaukee Bucks: Darvin Ham, Charles Lee considered enticing coaching candidates

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 24: (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

As the coaching carousel starts to wind back up with the NBA soon to open up business again, the Milwaukee Bucks are considered to have a couple of attractive coaching candidates.

With the NBA finalizing their plans to continue the 2019-20 season in a few weeks, business is set to start back up on multiple fronts.

For some teams, that includes officially kicking off coaching searches and some, as in the case of the New York Knicks, have already gotten things started with trying to find the next steward of their franchise.

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The Milwaukee Bucks obviously won’t be one of those teams, regardless of how the rest of their season plays out.

But being as successful as they have been under head coach Mike Budenholzer over the last two years, it’s only natural for opposing teams to chip away from all levels of the Bucks’ foundation in the hopes of finding their own path to success.

That could include poaching one of Budenholzer’s trusted assistant coaches on his bench that, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz, features a couple of up-and-coming head coaching candidates.

Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has already had three former assistant coaches go on to top jobs in the NBA, and two of his current assistants could join those ranks.

In the case of Charles Lee, who has been on Budenholzer’s bench for the last six seasons between their shared time in Atlanta and Milwaukee, few assistant coaches around the league have been viewed as such a strong future coaching candidate and held with such high esteem as Lee currently is, per Arnovitz:

"“Few assistant coaches saw a bigger season-to-season jump in our informal poll than Charles Lee, 35, who’s in his sixth season working under Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and now Milwaukee. Fans of Lee, who played professionally overseas before spending a couple of years as an equity trader on Wall Street, tout him as a five-tool coach who is every bit as comfortable having meaningful conversations with a backup point guard as he is dining with a team owner. Those who have worked with him say he has an intuitive sense of how to inspire improvement from players but also understands high-level strategy and the preparation required to implement it. He is, in the words of one peer, someone who is “categorically going to be an NBA head coach.””"

Certainly, the brand of player development, whether it’s been young and developing players or expanding the games of experienced veterans, has always been a feature throughout Budenholzer’s coaching stints. And that certainly extends on down the line to the assistant coaches he has brought in like Lee, who spoke to how that familiarity has yielded such great rewards as he told WITI’s Tim Van Vooren the following in April 2019:

"“Us being together before, we all know the terminology. We all know how Coach Bud likes things and thinks about things and how things need to be prepared and organized, and it really just helped us come here and hit the ground running,” said Lee.”"

While Lee is viewed as a rising star within the coaching ranks, Darvin Ham embodies the veteran assistant who has cut his teeth within the coaching field for more than a decade.

Again, per Arnovitz, Ham’s work ethic, connection with players and development background had made him a staple in these essential looks into the coaching market as Arnovitz has crafted in recent years:

"“Darvin Ham would command the instant respect of current players with his voice and manner as a hard-nosed NBA vet. He also brings a strong development background as a longtime assistant to Budenholzer, who offers an annual clinic in the art of team building and management.”"

Bringing that same hard work ethic that made him a fan favorite as a player, especially during his few seasons in Milwaukee, Ham has previously been a head coach during his early coaching days in the then-NBA D League with the New Mexico Thunderbirds, now the Canton Charge.

After one year under that role, Ham has been a long-standing assistant coach, first with the Los Angeles Lakers under Mike Brown, before he joined Budenholzer’s staff when he was appointed head coach of the Atlanta Hawks in the summer of 2013.

Budenholzer’s coaching tree has grown over these seven years since he got the big gig with the Hawks after his many years serving under legendary head coach Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. That has even transferred over to Milwaukee after Taylor Jenkins, an assistant coach under Budenholzer last year, is in his first season as the head coach of the rising Memphis Grizzlies.

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Given the current trajectory, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see that tree grow another branch, whether it be Ham or Lee or other prominent Bucks assistant coaches, very soon.