Draft pick, the search for a new head coach and free agency – in that order.
Mike D’Antoni stepping down adds the hiring of a new head coach to the growing list of needs that general manager Mitch Kupchak needs to address this summer, along with the job of deciding what to do with the draft pick and what players to sign to contracts during free agency.
The front office wants to wait until after the NBA lottery to decide who they want to hire as the team’s next head coach. I think it is a smart move: the team wants to have the right coach to go with the draft pick – their idea is that they want to build a dynasty.
That draft pick – regardless of where it lands – is the future of the Lakers franchise. Once the Lakers figure out what pick they get, the front office will then make a decision to find the right coach and system.
Byron Scott, George Karl, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are just a few coaches who have been linked to the Lakers’ coaching job in recent weeks. The Lakers also plan to ask permission to interview a few coaches who are currently under contract with other teams, including Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and the University of Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie.
All of these candidates are more than qualified to be a head coach in the NBA, but only a few are qualified to lead a historic organization like the Lakers back to the Finals.
It would be extremely nice to see Thibodeau to come coach the Lakers – he has a great system and is a coach that focuses on the defensive end, and, perhaps most importantly, players like to play for him.
However, Thibodeau would be hard to obtain because he recently started his new contract extension with the Bulls. For the Lakers to pry him out of Chicago, they would likely have to overpay. Of course, it’s possible, but I just don’t see the Lakers going that far – after all, the Bulls may simply not give the Lakers the permission to interview him.
While Kobe Bryant would approve of this hiring because he has respect for Thibodeau’s coaching style, the Black Mamba also has respect for another coach: his former teammate Byron Scott.
Scott has been a mentor to Bryant since he first came into the league in 1996 – Scott’s last season in the NBA. Scott and Kobe have kept in touch over the years and the pair have kept track of each other’s success.
Scott was thought to be the team’s choice to replace Phil Jackson after Jackson retired in 2011, according to reports, but he’d already taken the coaching position with the Cleveland Cavaliers by that time and the Lakers hired Mike Brown instead.
However, this time around, Scott is still considered by many to be the favorite to land the job.
After the Lakers have hired a coach they’ll then dive into free agency and find players that will fit the new coach’s style of play.
Whoever the Lakers sign and draft this offseason, there is no doubt that the purple and gold will look drastically different next season. Lakers management has a lot of work to do this summer, though I trust that they will put the best team together possible and contend for a playoff spot next season.