NBA

Wizards coaching update: Wes Unseld Jr., Darvin Ham, Charles Lee among finalists for position, per report

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The Washington Wizards are the last team standing when it comes to hiring a head coach after parting ways with Scott Brooks earlier this month after five seasons with the franchise. As the Wizards continue their search, several assistant coaches have reportedly risen to the top of their candidate list. 

Denver Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. along with Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee have emerged as finalists for the position, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. All three coaches have been in contention for other head-coaching positions around the league, but none have come to fruition yet. They all come as highly regarded assistants around the league, and whoever lands the position will be inheriting a Wizards roster that is pressured to win right now with star veterans Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook

Of the three coaches, Unseld and Ham are reportedly considered the front-runners, but Lee is also a finalist for the position. Unseld has connections to the Wizards, as he previously spent 13 seasons with the organization, most of which was spent as an assistant coach in charge of player development. Most recently, he’s spent the past six seasons coaching under Mike Malone and has been responsible for leading the team’s defensive scheme. He was elevated to associate head coach this season, after five years as an assistant. He’s also spent time as an assistant with the Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors.

Ham has spent a bulk of his coaching career under Mike Budenholzer in Milwaukee and Atlanta as his lead assistant. He also previously played in the NBA for eight seasons and won a title with the Pistons in 2004. He’s earned a reputation around the league as being one of the best assistant coaches around, and has been known to be a hard-nosed coach with a strong work ethic.

Along with Ham, Lee has also been an assistant coach under Budenholzer for most of his coaching career in both Milwaukee and Atlanta. He’s been key in the development of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton and comes with winning experience in the postseason. 

By honing in on assistants to fill the head-coaching vacancy in Washington, it signals that the Wizards are willing to give a first-time head coach a shot to help rebuild this team into consistent playoff contenders. However, there’s pressure in D.C. to be more than just a playoff team as Beal’s future with the team has been a ticking clock for the past few years. Whoever steps in as head coach will have some high expectations placed on their shoulders and will be expected to win right away with the roster the Wizards already have.



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