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Seven names to watch as Lakers begin search for new coach

May 1, 2014, 2:24 AM EDT

Kevin Ollie Kevin Ollie

Mike D’Antoni is gone in Los Angeles — Lakers fans want to make Thursday a national holiday of celebration. Even though much of it was not his fault, D’Antoni had become the whipping boy of Lakers fans, the guy whose head had to roll (and he certainly made his share of mistakes and had his share of problems on the job). As proof Lakers fans are ecstatic check out this “classy” tweet from Magic Johnson.

Ding Dong the witch is dead….

Now what?

Don’t expect the Lakers to move quickly here, and expect them to cast a wide net and talk to a lot of people. Early buzz is they are focused on the draft (where they will have a Top 9 pick) so there is almost no chance a coach is hired before the NBA Draft lottery May 20. They could hold out longer, even past the June draft or later (in theory the Lakers could try to sell a big-time free agent with the idea he would have input on a coach, but they aren’t even giving Kobe Bryant that input).

When the Lakers do hire a coach, who will they choose? It’s impossible to say (other than “not Phil Jackson,” plus along those lines Stan Van Gundy told Eytan Shander of NBC Sports Radio “I don’t anticipate them contacting me.”). So here are seven names to watch.

1. Byron Scott. For their last two coaches management went outside the “Laker family” and went with Mike Brown and Mike D’Antoni. Both of those failed miserably. Scott is a former Laker who twice coached the Nets to the NBA Finals (with Jason Kidd). More importantly, he is a Buss family favorite. He’s a guy that can burn out players and he’s had less success in recent stops, but he comes with one other big perk — a great relationship with Kyrie Irving (he coached him in Cleveland).

2. Lionel Hollins. If you want the anti-D’Antoni this is your guy — he is old school, hard knocks and likes to play slow. He’s also good at building a culture and developing players, as we saw in Memphis. All that said, his old school ways seem an uncomfortable fit with the Lakers organization. Plus, Jim Buss wants to win while being entertaining, and Hollins wants a grinding team.

3. John Calipari. No, it’s not happening, he’s even said as much , but you can bet World Wide Wes will throw it out there. If one job could lure Calipari out of Kentucky and to the NBA it would be this one — and he’s a guy with great player contacts all over the league, a guy players love to play for.

4. Kevin Ollie. If the Lakers are going to go the college route — I doubt they are, but let’s play the hypothetical game — the guy who just led UConn to a national title is the man they chase. A lot of NBA GMs have him on their radar. He’s a well respected NBA veteran who has shown some coaching chops. Here are two reasons to take this seriously: First, he’s a Los Angeles guy, he played his high school ball at Crenshaw high; Second, Kevin Durant speaks very highly of him and how as a veteran Ollie taught KD, Russell Westbrook and James Harden to be professionals. If you’re trying to lure Durant out of Oklahoma City in 2016 when he is a free agent, having Ollie as your coach would help.

5. Steve Kerr. He has no coaching experience but he’s got a championship pedigree and is a former GM. In LA you need a coach who can deal with the crush of media, keep the fans happy and still coach. Kerr has the potential to be that guy… I still don’t love the fit, but I could see why you have an interview. Kerr also wants to stay on the West Coast — he played his high school ball at Pacific Palisades and he currently lives in San Diego — so the Lakers may be more tempting than the Knicks.

6. Jeff Van Gundy. By law his name has to come up in every major coaching search. It will come up here, but I’m not sure he leaves the booth for the sidelines again, especially not for the rebuilding project that is the Lakers right now. The bigger problem is if he does return he’s not just going to want to coach — he will want player/personnel say. The Lakers have Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss for that, the power structure is set. Not sure there is a real fit here.

7. George Karl. He likes to play up-tempo, entertaining basketball, he’s good with the media and he would build a culture with the young players the Lakers have/will bring in. The one problem here is the same as Van Gundy — he would demand a lot of say over the roster. The Lakers aren’t going to surrender it.

  1. pcsurfer - May 1, 2014 at 2:28 AM

    Would Michael Cooper be a good option?

  2. kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 2:42 AM

    Welcome back home, Byron!

  3. lakerade - May 1, 2014 at 3:16 AM


    • money2long - May 2, 2014 at 3:58 AM

      What fish ?

  4. jacobk621 - May 1, 2014 at 3:30 AM

    Coach K ?? Yay or Nay ??

  5. 00maltliquor - May 1, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    No disrespect to Kevin Ollie, but gtfoh with that flavor-of-the-month BS

    SVG, SVG, SVG!!

    Honestly, Byron Scott, I could live with that…I wouldn’t be satisfied fully right away, but I wouldn’t hate. I just wouldn’t be enthralled.

    Same goes for Calipari. Although I would be slightly intrigued.

    I just want someone who will EMPHASIZE DEFENSE first and foremost, and is not an offensive joke. And probably more then anything, someone who can grow with the organization. Someone who will be around as the coaching face of the franchise like a Pop or a Sloan. I really hope Jimmy, Mitch and ’em take their time and do their due diligence.

    • unxpexted1 - May 1, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      The only reason i’d be okay with Bryon is because i know Kobe has wanted to play for Byron and likes him. Would be good for the short term if you get veteran players. Not sure how he would be long term if we go the youth route.

    • spthegr8 - May 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      I’d be cool with SVG but I think I would rather have George Karl. I think they are the 2 Best choices of the bunch which leads me to believe that Jimbo won’t pick either of them. Going off past experiences with him. He is probably going to F this up again. I hope I’m wrong but I have no Faith in him!! I do have faith in Mitch but their is only so much he can do!!!!

      • asimonetti88 - May 1, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        George Karl is a good coach but I’m not sure the roster is a fit for him

      • unxpexted1 - May 1, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        To me George Karl is too close to D’antoni. He’s teams always liked greatly in defense as well in Denver.

      • unxpexted1 - May 1, 2014 at 11:09 AM


  6. ahollins05 - May 1, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    You do realize the only reason the grizzlies played slow is because that’s what their roster dictated. Not because Hollins just wanted to play that way. He played to the trams strengths. Also, they were very entertaining doing it. If he had team full of perimeter players who could shoot, they would play faster

  7. seanb20124 - May 1, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    How bout Tragic Johnson part II.

  8. chiadam - May 1, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    I get my Van Gundys mixed up. Is Jeff the fat one that everyone wants to punch in the face, or is Jeff the annoying TV guy that everyone wants to punch in the face?

    • johnheisman - May 1, 2014 at 8:14 AM

      They are very easy to tell apart, Jeff is the one that is hanging on for deal life to Alonzo Mourning lower leg during a fight.

  9. gameisours - May 1, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    Oklahoma will mix in a coach search aswell.

    • ranfan12 - May 1, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      OKC, should get mike. If he can make an offensive team out of 2013 lakers, he can find a way to make durant and westbrook work.

  10. phillyguyindc - May 1, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    I like how Steve Kerr is all of the sudden a hot commodity among coaching cadidates. Where did this come from? I would take someone with experience over him-especially for the Laker job.

    • ranfan12 - May 1, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Zen Master strikes again

    • mogogo1 - May 1, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Agree 100% but for whatever reason experience isn’t particularly valued in the NBA when it comes to coaches.

      I can almost see that in some cases when the guy just retired so they’re thinking he’s really going to relate well to the players, but that doesn’t describe Kerr. No clue why he’d suddenly be the “it” guy.

  11. 407magic - May 1, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    No matter who they get the lakers will still suck tube steak. I’m sure the next coach will also be the laker scapegoat. The lakers need a new GM. Start there..

    • kb2408 - May 1, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Yeah because that Mitch guy hasn’t built any winners before. Dolt.

      • asimonetti88 - May 1, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        He’s only won 3 championships as a GM… lol.

  12. aboogy123456 - May 1, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    One thing that everyone needs to keep in mind is that the Lakers hired D’Antoni because they wanted a showtime type up and down system. Jerry Buss wanted this, and it’s been no secret when you hear Jeannie or Jim talk about it. I don’t know which coach will best fit that system, but I don’t expect them to change their vision just because D’Antoni didn’t work. I personally want Stan Van Gundy, but if anybody knows of any qualified coaches who would fit that showtime type of game please let me know, because they may be on the top of the list.

  13. therealdave123 - May 1, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    You know Kobe would love to be player/coach, but then again who would he throw under the buss if the team sucks?

  14. ranfan12 - May 1, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    No love for Bernie Bickerstaff anyone? He has a perfect coaching record with the lakers lol

  15. greej1938l - May 1, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    LOL at Ollie

  16. miamatt - May 1, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Who’s this World Wide Wes? I’d like to hear more from him.

    • asimonetti88 - May 1, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      He’s the guy that Calipari uses to transfer money to recruits

  17. emdawt - May 1, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Byron Scott is a horrible coach. Why is he on this list.

    David Fizdale, Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Ollie and Derek Fisher. Lakers should look for a coach that can implement a system and coach this team now and in the future.

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