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Report: Lakers dragging feet on coaching search in hopes of landing LeBron James

Jun 10, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

LeBron James LeBron James

Such is the potential franchise changing power of LeBron James that even though teams realize there is next to zero chance he leaves Miami this summer after making four straight NBA Finals (and maybe getting a three-peat), still teams feel they have leave the door open just in case he could change his mind.

Enter the Los Angeles Lakers.

With the New York Knicks hiring Derek Fisher Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers is the premiere coaching job still available but they are dragging their feet on the coaching search. Why?

LeBron. Or maybe Carmelo Anthony. That according to Sam Amick at the USA Today.

The slow pace of the Lakers’ coaching search that began April 30 when Mike D’Antoni resigned has been timed deliberately with the upcoming free agency period in the NBA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Specifically, the idea that the Lakers could beat the odds and land the likes of the Heat’s LeBron James, the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony or any of the other superstars who may be free agents on July 1 has led the Lakers to plod through their process so as to not limit their potential options. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the search.

Maybe if the Spurs win the NBA Finals the Heat’s big three of LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will decide they need to reconsider their options, but the more likely option is they all opt in, or decide this is all working for them and re-sign for longer together.

Is there a coach among the guys the Lakers have spoken to — Alvin Gentry, Byron Scott, Lionel Hollins, etc, — that is going to win LeBron James over? Not likely.

From there Amick goes another speculative direction — what if Anthony decided to join the Heat and all four of them took considerably less money?

A Big Four with the Heat (James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony) is possible, but it would require significant pay cuts from all involved. The Heat have about $8 million in payroll for next season if James, Wade and Bosh all opt out. It comes in handy that the salary cap is expected to increase by about $5 million next season to $63.2 million, while the luxury tax threshold is expected to be $77 million.

Should some iteration of that group decide to head West to join Kobe Bryant and offer the Lakers an instant rebuild, they would be more than welcome to the team that has only three players with guaranteed contracts on their roster for next season (Bryant, Steve Nash and Robert Sacre).

All that is fun speculation. None of it is likely. Actually, likely may be too kind a word.

Think about it this way: LeBron certainly realizes that the Heat need to retool the roster some over the next couple years if they are going to keep winning, but who would he trust more to do that: The unproven Jim Buss with the Lakers? Dan Gilbert and his ability to create a strong organization in Cleveland? Or might LeBron think, “I trust the best closer in the game, Pat Riley, to recruit guys to come win and live in Miami?” Exactly. LeBron realizes situations are not going to get a lot better than where he is right now.

But just in case, the Lakers will be ready.

  1. csbanter - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Lebron is staying in Miami case closed. We come to NBC Sports talk because ESPN requires users to comment using Facebook. Don’t insult our intelligence with ridiculous headlines like this. Cut it out…lol

  2. sumkat - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    If you are going to have delusions, they may as well be grand delusions

  3. lacolem1 - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    Funny that i don’t hear Kobe loudly proclaiming about how he doesn’t need or want Lebron, and how real stars don’t need help. I guess we’re completely past the silliness of post-Decision 2011.

  4. prareedoggin - Jun 10, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    You guys act like Lebron won’t take a pay cut, he made 45 mil off endorsement last year alone, he will take a pay cut. Bosh has said he would already and according to the sacrifices he makes on the court its foolish i believe he wouldn’t do the same financially to secure another star. Wade is the wild card and I believe he will follow suit and go with the same team first mentality, although I think it will be the largest of the 3 contracts

  5. harshedmellow - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    Lakers are going to be soooo much fun for this Blazer fan to watch these next couple seasons!

    #ArrogantFranchiseFloundering

  6. isaiah007 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    What a ridiculous report. Look this guy has no real ties to the Lakers, if Ramona Shelburne or even Stein reported this then let’s have a conversation. But this is one of those in between finals nothing to talk about let’s say this reports. When did you find out about the Gasol trade? What about Trevor Ariza? CP3? Steve Nash? Even the MDA hiring when everyone said Phil. You know when? When it came across your ticker or whatever you use to get info. The Lakers have always moved in silence and have very few leaks!! You hear about their moves after they’ve made them. They know LeBron isn’t coming especially this year. This is a non story

  7. aboogy123456 - Jun 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    If I’m a reporter and have nothing to talk about during the finals, I can just make up a story with the words “LeBron” and “Lakers” in it, and will get plenty of publicity. Look at how many people commented on this blog for example.

  8. antistratfordian - Jun 10, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    That’s pretty funny.

  9. drewzducks - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    So I guess this means they won’t go the Knicks/Fischer route and hire Delonte West.

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