The Los Angeles Lakers will appoint Byron Scott’s successor soon, avoiding a situation wherein they enter the offseason without a head coach, revealed general manager Mitch Kupchak.
Speaking to the team’s official television network Monday, Kupchak said that the team’s fourth full-time coach since 2011 would be announced in the near future. “I think it’s unlikely there will be anything done in the next week or two,” Kupchak told Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet. “But certainly I don’t anticipate this dragging into the summer. We’d like to get it done. We’re looking to have a big offseason. It would be nice to have our staff in place during the draft and certainly when July 1 rolls around,” added Kupchak, who has served in the Lakers front office since 1986.
Lakers shortlist candidates…
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers have shortlisted a long list of coaching candidates. “Among the candidates the Lakers will look at are Luke Walton, Kevin Ollie, Jay Wright, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, John Calipari, Ettore Messina, Jeff Van Gundy and David Blatt, sources told Shelburne.” According to Brian Windhorst, former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek is also on the list.
So what would be the criteria for finalizing the next coach? Will it be influenced by the young roster which includes D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle? “There are a lot of different arenas that we can look to to find a coach. That opens up, clearly, assistants, existing head coaches, and we’ve got a list. We’re trying to narrow the list down. We’ll contact some people, and hopefully we’ll have some phone conversations, maybe some in-person interviews, and go from there. I don’t think it’s going to drag out, but you don’t know,” added Kupchak.
Kevin Ollie in the mix…
Ollie and Kevin Durant are said to have close ties. Some reckon that Lakers will significantly improve their chances of signing Durant by hiring the current University of Connecticut head coach. According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Ollie finds the Lakers job intriguing. “Although he (Ollie) has remained happy coaching the Huskies for the past four years, Ollie finds the Lakers’ head-coaching vacancy intriguing, according to a source familiar with his thinking,” Medina wrote Monday.
According to Medina, the Lakers are free to contact Ollie and wouldn’t need to seek permission from the Huskies. “Unlike coaches on opposing NBA teams, no NCAA program can levy tampering charges. But some complications could emerge surrounding Ollie’s contract should the Lakers want to hire him to replace Byron Scott.”
The Lakers’ offseason begins with the NBA Draft Lottery on May 17. If the Lakers’ pick falls out of the top-3, they wouldn’t get to pick a high draft pick this season. “We have to rely on the lottery and the luck of the gods to give us a pick this year in the top three. We do know we have the second pick in the second round, which will be a good draft pick. And if we don’t get this year’s (first-round) pick, we’ll get next year’s pick,” said Kupchak.
Who should the Lakers hire as their next coach?