Mitch Kupchak Wants New Coach In Place By Draft: “We’re Looking To Have A Big Off-Season”

The Lakers’ general manager doesn’t anticipate the coaching search to “drag out” for too long

With four candidates being hired just in five years, head coaching searches are becoming all too familiar for Laker fans.

The same can be said for the team’s front office, who will once again pick up the phones and begin calling coaching candidates with the hopes of setting up interviews over the coming weeks.

They’ve already been granted an interview with San Antonio Spurs lead assistant coach Ettore Messina, according to a report, which is a sign that the team is looking to move fast.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said that this year’s head coaching search wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be a long one.

“We’ve begun the search,” Kupchak told Time Warner Cable SportsNet. “It’s not something that we want to drag out.”

After the Lakers parted ways with Mike D’Antoni at the end of April in 2014, the team took until August to hire his replacement. This was partly due to the team’s whole “choose your coach” pitch for free agents, though it doesn’t look like they will go with that failed strategy this time around.

“I think that’s very unlikely,” Kupchak said when asked whether the coaching search will be a long one. “I think it’s unlikely there’ll be anything done in the next week or two. Maybe two weeks. But certainly, I don’t anticipate this going into the summer. We’d like to get it done. We’re looking to have a big off-season, it’d be nice to have our staff in place during the draft and certainly when July 1st rolls around.”

The Lakers will find out on May 17 whether they will keep their top-three protected draft pick. The draft itself is set for June 23.

Free agency will begin just days later. The Lakers could be armed with around $60 million in cap space, so the team will be looking to secure a strong head coaching candidate to assist them during free agent meetings.

As for those candidates, Messina and Luke Walton are said to be on the Lakers’ “unofficial short list.”

“We’ve got a list, we’re trying to narrow the list down,” Kupchak said in the interview. “We’ll contact some people and hopefully we’ll have some phone conversations and maybe some in person interviews and go from there. I don’t think it will drag out but you don’t know.”

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Written by Ross Pickering

Ross Pickering is the founder of He's here to bring you daily updates on your Los Angeles Lakers, despite living 5,485 miles away from L.A. in England. You can follow him on Twitter: @RossPickering

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