LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Darvin Ham on Friday after two seasons, and the team now will open a job search in hopes of finding the right person to maximize what figures to be the final chapter of LeBron James‘ storied career while returning to championship contention.

Ham, who had two years remaining on his contract, went 90-74 (.549) during the regular season and 9-12 (.429) in the postseason — which does not include his two play-in tournament wins — since being hired to replace Frank Vogel in 2022. He also guided the Lakers to the inaugural in-season tournament title in Las Vegas in December.

The decision came just days after the Lakers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets for the second straight season, this time in five games in the first round after being swept by Denver in the conference finals a year ago.

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“We greatly appreciate Darvin Ham’s efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognize the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons including last year’s remarkable run to the Western Conference finals,” Rob Pelinka, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager, said in a statement. “We all want to thank Darvin for this dedication and positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season. The organization will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-caliber basketball to Lakers fans around the world.”

Despite James (71 games) and Anthony Davis (76) playing their most combined games since becoming teammates in L.A. in 2018, the Lakers only earned the No. 7 seed in a crowded Western Conference field, setting up the showdown with the No. 2-seeded Nuggets.

The Lakers failed to protect a double-digit lead in all four of their losses in the series, including a 20-point second-half lead in Game 2.

“It’s been a hell of a two years … I’ll tell you that,” Ham said Monday after L.A. was eliminated. “Sitting in this seat, it’s been a hell of a two years. A lot of good things that got done, but ultimately, you want to win that ultimate prize.”

Ham inherited a Lakers team coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the franchise, when it went 33-49 in 2021-22 and failed to qualify for the postseason after it traded several role players who were vital to L.A.’s 2020 title for Russell Westbrook.

L.A. started off 2-10 in Ham’s first season, and the roster was completely overhauled in a series of moves leading up to the trade deadline. The team parted ways with Westbrook and retooled with D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura to complement holdovers James, Davis and Austin Reaves.

That team beat the Minnesota Timberwolves in the play-in tournament to earn the No. 7 seed and went on to upset the No. 2-seeded Memphis Grizzlies and No. 6-seeded Golden State Warriors before falling to the top-seeded Nuggets. Denver went on to win its first championship in franchise history.

This season, the Lakers had an underwhelming start once again by going 3-5, then stumbled through a 4-11 stretch following the in-season tournament title, dropping them to No. 13 in the West in mid-January. L.A. rallied to finish the season 23-10 — the fifth-best record in the league from Feb. 1 through mid-April — and beat the New Orleans Pelicans in the play-in tournament to earn the No. 7 seed again.

Last year, the Nuggets swept the Lakers in the playoffs and outscored them by 24 points in their four wins; this time around, it took Denver five games, and the combined margin of victory was 22 points in the four wins.